03 December 2010

US Visa rules hold back tourism says airline

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Easier US Visas would spur lucrative tourism from China, the head of the growing Hawaiian Airlines has said.

US Visa

A growing airline has called for easier US Visa processes to encourge more Chinese tourists.

Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines' president and CEO, pointed to the strong growth in tourism numbers after the United States relaxed rules for South Korean visitors as a positive indication.

The carrier last month launched flights between Honolulu and Tokyo's Haneda airport, and will begin a new service in January to Seoul's Incheon airport.  Hawaiian Airlines has no immediate plans to enter fast-growing China.

Mr Dunkerley said it was burdensome to get a US Visa for tourism if you are a Chinese citizen and this was a major impediment to Chinese tourists visiting.

He said the airline saw strong growth in tourism to Hawaii from South Korea after the United States in 2008 added it to its list of countries whose nationals can visit without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.

Recent US government statistics found that the number of South Korean visitors to the United States soared 50 percent in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2009.

The Hawaiian Islands have been a popular destination for Japanese tourist for some time.

China's rising affluent middle class has been the focus of tourism boards around the world, and is a lucrative emerging market provided that visa conditions and Chinese government destination approval is granted to host countries. 

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their ESTA applications to the US Embassy.

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