Maui News

Governor Pushes for Streamlining Visa Process

October 24, 2011, 5:09 PM HST
* Updated October 24, 5:10 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Governor Neil Abercrombie meets with Governor Wang Sanyun of Anhui Province. Photo courtesy Office of the Governor, State of Hawai'i.

Streamlining the visa process was among the items that topped Governor Neil Abercrombie’s agenda on his recent trip to Asia.

In order to attract more visitors from China, Abercrombie said the State Department is working to streamline the visa process.

“I was encouraged by our Embassy and by Chinese leaders to pursue expediting the visa process,” said Gov. Abercrombie.

The governor said his relationships in Washington put him in a position where he can be helpful in coordinating the effort.

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Other key items raised during the governor’s Asia trip included a focus on visitor industry growth, economic cooperation, and the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference.

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While in China, Governor Abercrombie met with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cui Tiankai and Chairman Shao Qiwei of the Chinese National Tourism Administration.

“These high officials are very much aware of the Chinese-Hawai’i visitor potential and I believe we have established an excellent working relationship,” said Gov. Abercrombie.

In 2010, Hawai’i welcomed 62,032 visitors from China, an increase of 48% over 2009, according to the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.  The agency also reported a 23% increase in per person per day spending to $351; and a 4% increase in per person per trip spending to $2,076.

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The HTA projects approximately 91,000 Chinese visitors will arrive in 2011, up 37% over 2010.

“No other Hawai’i governor has traveled so early on his or her administration to Japan and China, and our partners recognize his outreach and commitment to Hawaii’s number one industry,” said HTA President and CEO Michael McCartney.

The Asia trip also afforded Gov. Abercrombie the opportunity to build new relationships in anticipation of the upcoming APEC conference.

“This is our chance to showcase that Hawai’i is much more than just a visitor destination,” said Gov. Abercrombie. He said leaders from 21-member economies will also learn that our islands are a “perfect gathering place” to conduct business as well.

*** Supporting information courtesy Office of the Governor, State of Hawai’i.

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