Los Angeles Tourism Industry to Benefit from Taiwan Visa Waiver Beginning Today

Short and Long-Term Increases in Taiwanese Visitation Anticipated;
Destination Prepares to Welcome Influx of Visitors

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (November 1, 2012) – Today’s arrival of a China Airlines flight from Taipei marks the beginning of the U.S. Visa Waiver program for Taiwan and an anticipated 25 percent increase in Taiwanese visitation to Los Angeles, according to officials at the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (LA Tourism).  Seventy-one Taiwanese passengers aboard China Airlines flight 0006 made the historic visa waiver journey and arrived to red carpet fanfare at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). 

Los Angeles is already the most visited U.S. city by Taiwanese travelers, welcoming 89,000 travelers in 2011, who accounted for $179 million in spending.  The number of Taiwanese visitors in 2012 is expected to top 100,000.  Taiwan is among the top 10 overseas visitor markets for Los Angeles and the destination enjoys a 30.8 percent market share of all visitors to the U.S. from Taiwan.

The U.S. Visa Waiver program allows pre-approved Taiwanese travelers to enter the U.S. for business or leisure travel for up to 90 days without the need to complete the U.S. Visa application process and await approval. Taiwan becomes the 37th member in the program and the fifth Asian participant following South Korea, admitted in November, 2008.

“Los Angeles is the world’s city of dreams and today we are helping to make dreams come true for a new wave of Taiwanese travelers,” said Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa.  “I have been an advocate for visa reform and I applaud our political leaders in Washington for including Taiwan in the visa waiver program and look forward to continued reform efforts.”

“I am really happy for Taiwanese citizens," Director General Chung-chen Kung, the head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles (TECO) said. "VWP for Taiwan means a lot.  Not only does it become much easier for Taiwanese citizens to travel around the U.S., but it is also a huge step forward for Taiwan-U.S. relations."

“The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, which represents the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), was established for conducting consular affairs in the region of Sothern California, Arizona and New Mexico. The government of Taiwan has worked hard to comply with U.S. security-related requirements for VWP, which includes strict border control standards and low rejection rates for visa applications,” he added.  “Taiwan is now included as one of the 37 members of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  We expect an increase in the number of tourists to Los Angeles.  The increase in tourism will greatly benefit the economic exchange and help solidify the relationship between the two countries.”

“Taipei, Taiwan is one of 25 Sister Cities to Los Angeles and I am proud and honored to welcome new friends from Taiwan to our great city today.  International travelers make up 20 percent of the visitors to Los Angeles and account for a third of the total $15.2 billion spent by tourists each year in our area.  Increasing international access to visit the United States and Los Angeles is vital to keeping our local economy strong,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

“This is such an important and exciting development for our local tourism industry that we are rolling out the red carpet for today’s China Airlines passengers and future Taiwanese visitors,” said Patti MacJennett, senior vice president, business affairs for LA Tourism. “Whenever travel to Los Angeles becomes easier and more accessible, Los Angeles enjoys significant increases in visitation that keeps our industry strong and creates new jobs.”

“The timing of this program is fortuitous both to position LAX to be competitive as a leading global gateway and at a time when we are undergoing the largest public works project in the history of LA, a complete modernization of LAX,” said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director, Los Angeles World Airports.

"We treasure this moment as a great opportunity to stimulate tourism as well as business travel between Taiwan and the United States. And, as part of the travel industry, China Airlines would like to express our gratitude, not only for the VWP’s substantial benefit brought up to our industry, but also for giving us more chances to enhance our services and provide more travelers from across the ocean with the highest quality product," added China Airlines Vice President, North American Operations, F. B. Chang. "Just like the weather in L.A., this is a program which welcomes travelers with comfort and warmth. We thank you and know that with close collaboration with our travel partners, we will definitely see a positive growth in number of visitors to the United States in the near future."

Attractions such as Madame Tussauds Hollywood, a well-known brand in Taiwan and around the world, are poised to welcome increased visitation.

“Growth in inbound tourism can only be positive and it opens up a whole new tourist market for us to penetrate. Not only is this obviously great for the economy, it gives our visitors from Taiwan a warmer welcome to the U.S., and in particular here in LA today,” said Colin Thomas, general manager for Madame Tussauds Hollywood.  Hollywood is globally iconic with visitors wanting to be immersed in the world of film, movies and fame when they visit.  If they don’t bump into their favorite celebs while they’re here, where better to visit than Madame Tussauds?”

“Taiwanese visitors are already drawn to LA’s entertainment heritage, to visit local family and friends and to conduct business.  But we aren’t resting on our laurels.  Before the year is out, we have plans to be in Taiwan to further educate the Taiwan travel trade industry on the endless entertainment options LA offers,” added LA Tourism’s MacJennett.

Last year, Los Angeles welcomed a record 40.4 million visitors from around the globe, making it one of the most visited destinations in the U.S. and with the second highest share of overseas visitation to the U.S. (13.1 percent).  Tourism is a leading industry in Los Angeles, supporting 372,000 jobs and contributing $15 billion in economic impact.

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board is a private, nonprofit business association whose primary mission is to market and promote Los Angeles as the premier site for meetings, conventions and leisure travel.  The organization is recognized as the city’s official tourism marketing organization. For more information, visit the official visitor information Web site of Los Angeles at www.discoverLosAngeles.com. 

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Media Contacts

Susan Lomax                                                  Amy Wang
Vice President, Communication                      Press Division
LA Tourism                                                      TECO
phn: 213/236-2397                                          phn: 323/782-8765
[email protected]                                  [email protected]

Nancy Castles                                                 Jenny Lee
Public Relations Director                                 Manager, Marketing Development
LAWA                                                              The Americas
Phn: 424/646-5260                                         China Airlines
[email protected]                                          Phn: 310/615-3864
                                                                        [email protected]