7.03 million foreign visitors came to LA in 2016. That year, LA became the first US city to welcome more than 1 million visitors from China. These Chinese visitors represented 75% of LA’s international growth and surpassed Canada as the 2nd biggest group of international visitors. This is a sustained trend; for over 7 years, the number of Chinese visitors to LA has increased by over 20%. LA Tourism has offices in 2 Chinese cities (Beijing and Shanghai). Those who stay in the LA area also have a profound impact on our city’s culture; immigrants from China and other Asian countries have made Los Angeles the city with the greatest variety of Buddhist sects in the world.
These Chinese visitors come as tourists and immigrants, but also as students, investors, and creatives looking to learn from and participate in Los Angeles’ dynamic arts industry. According to the 2017 Otis Report on the Creative Economy, Los Angeles has the 2nd largest number of creative workers in the nation (429,400) and creative industries comprise 13.7% of the county’s gross product, up from 12.7% in 2014. The LAEDC projects creative industry employment in LA will grow by 5.2% from 2015 to 2020. A significant amount of California’s creative output is exported, so improving the fortunes of the state’s major trading partners also stimulates growth. Jim MacLellan, director of Trade Development for the Port of Los Angeles, has stated that the Port of Los Angeles should be America’s maritime outpost to integrate into China’s One Belt One Road Initiative, as the port is responsible for 43% of the country’s total cargo volume. For China, which has invested heavily in its own domestic entertainment industry, Los Angeles’s mature and dynamic entertainment industry represents an opportunity for learning, investment, and collaboration. Dalian Wanda Group acquired AMC and Legendary Entertainment, and recently signed a deal to invest in Sony Pictures. Chinese media companies Tencent and WeChat also have offices in Los Angeles.