The U.S. and China
have signed an agreement that will facilitate group leisure travel
from China to the U.S. and permit U.S. destinations to market
themselves in China, the U.S. Department of Commerce said.
A memorandum of
understanding was signed by U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos
Gutierrez and presented during the U.S.-China Joint Commission on
Commerce and Trade in Beijing. The MOU is expected to be
implemented in spring 2008.
will open a large and growing market for the U.S. travel and
tourism industry," Gutierrez said in a statement.
In May, the United
States and China signed a declaration to launch formal negotiations
to facilitate Chinese group leisure travel to the U.S. The MOU will
facilitate travel for Chinese citizens within the State
Department's existing visa procedures, but it may be terminated if
significant numbers of group travelers overstay their period of
admission, the Commerce Department said. The department did not
state whether China has granted the U.S. approved destination
In response to the
announcement, the National Tour Association said it had already
submitted a proposal to the Department of Commerce to create a
program in conjunction with U.S. operators to provide group tours
for Chinese travelers.
"NTA is well
positioned to assist U.S. travel companies in arranging Chinese
leisure group travel and is ready to work with industry
professionals in both countries," Bob Hoelscher, NTA chairman and
CEO, said in a statement.
NYC & Company, New
York's tourism and marketing organization, also hailed the
agreement, saying that it was "a valuable advancement for the
United States' travel and tourism industry."
To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send
e-mail to Michelle Baran at [email protected].