June 9th’s Wall Street Journal reports that visitors from China are big spenders in the U.S. (averaging over $6000 per person) but visa red tape means they often opt for Europe.
“U.S. retailers are feeling left out, thanks to a clunky visa process that can force would-be tourists to wait months for permission to travel. Last year, 38% of Chinese travelers on long-distance trips visited Europe, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Just 13% came to the U.S.”
With that in mind, U.S.-based retailers like Polo and Saks Inc. are lobbying the State Department to ease the visa process for Chinese visitors. Reducing wait times is a primary goal. Getting a visa interview in Beijing currently takes about 57 days, according to the State Department. In Shanghai, it can take 65 days.
Chinese visitors love to shop in the U.S. Nearly 94% went shopping here, beating out restaurants, sightseeing and museums as the most popular activity.