The demand for travel between the US and China is experiencing a significant upswing, driven by increased direct flights and simplified visa procedures. This trend was highlighted during the recent online event, “US-China Travel Trends and Opportunities,” hosted on January 30 by AmCham China in collaboration with AmCham Shanghai, with nearly 100 participants in attendance.
The webinar commenced with opening remarks from Executive Director of US-China Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP) Geoffrey Jackson and President of AmCham Shanghai Eric Zheng. Guest speakers included Stephanie Tong, Sales Manager of Northern China for United Airlines; Greg Lu, Account Sales Executive for Delta Air Lines; Jason Rubin, Economic Affairs Officer of the US Embassy Beijing; Jake Warden, Special Assistant to the Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs of the US Embassy Beijing; and Becky Xia, Managing Partner of Fragomen (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.
Stephanie Tong initiated the session by outlining the current status of US-China direct flights. She announced that by July 1st, 2024, there will be a total of 70 flights per week between the two countries. Tong also provided details on United Airlines’ daily direct flight routes, including San Francisco-Beijing and San Francisco-Shanghai.
Greg Lu elaborated on Delta’s latest direct flight offerings, including daily flights from Seattle to Shanghai and three-times-weekly flights from Detroit to Shanghai. Lu emphasized Delta’s collaboration with China Eastern Airlines, offering seamless flying connections to various Chinese cities and the convenience of checking luggage through to the final destination in China.
Jason Rubin from the US Embassy Beijing highlighted the commitment made by Presidents Xi and Biden to increase US-China flights, aiming to enhance people-to-people cooperation. Rubin assured participants that current flight limitations are not long-term solutions and that both countries are actively working towards expanding travel opportunities.
Jake Warden, Special Assistant to the Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, revealed a remarkable 325% increase in US visa applications processed by the US Embassy and Consulates in China throughout 2023 compared to 2022. While striving to expedite processing times, Warden acknowledged variations based on individual circumstances. He announced significant investments to expand consulate staff over the next 6-12 months to address the growing demand. Warden also revealed the upgrading plan for the interview waiver application program to accommodate the expected surge in P.R.C visa renewal applications.
Becky Xia from Fragomen provided comprehensive insights into business visas, work authorizations, and various eligibility criteria for foreigners entering China. Xia highlighted the reinstatement of multi-entry visas for US citizens and noted that China has implemented visa exemptions for several countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Spain, Singapore, Brunei, Switzerland, and Ireland.
Geoffrey Jackson concluded the webinar by reaffirming AmCham China’s commitment to advocating for continued and improved travel opportunities between the US and China. He encouraged participants to explore AmCham China’s Business Visa Program for a faster application process. Click here to learn more about the Program.