Hirono has been a strong advocate for longer visas to increase Chinese tourism to Hawaii

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Senator Mazie K. Hirono today applauded President Obama’s announcement that the U.S. and China have agreed to mutually extend the validity period for travel visas between the two countries. Beginning this November 12, the maximum validity of short-term tourist and business visas will increase from one to ten years, and the maximum validity of student and exchange visas will increase from one to five years. In July 2013, Senator Hirono led a bipartisan letter to urge Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew to push for extending travel visas for Chinese tourists during the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

“The longer visas for Chinese travelers is a game-changer for Hawaii’s visitor industry and something I’ve pushed for a long time,” said Senator Hirono. “China is the fastest growing tourism market in the world. With this change, Hawaii can expect more new and repeat visitors from China. Chinese visitors are Hawaii’s highest spending visitor group, which means a stronger economy and more local jobs.”

“This visa extension agreement between the U.S. and China will serve to strengthen China as a tourism channel which, of course, positively impacts businesses in Hawaii in terms of increased revenue and more jobs for our residents,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President Sherry Menor-McNamara. “This agreement also bodes well for our manufacturing in Hawaii initiative through which we are working to increase our state’s export opportunities to reach the 1.3 billion market that China represents, as well as increase supplier opportunities for products manufactured in Hawaii.”

Hirono long championed measures to boost tourism to Hawaii. In April 2013, the Senate immigration bill included key provisions from Senator Hirono’s VISIT USA Act, a bipartisan bill she introduced while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives that included longer visas for Chinese visitors.

Marvin Buenconsejo, (808) 522-8970

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