Jan. 20--BEIJING -- The number of Chinese tourists visiting the U.S. each year will more than triple by 2020, as 5.7 million mainland visitors are expected to reach American shores that year, a new report predicts. And California is the most popular destination.

That's well ahead of the 1.5 million mainland Chinese who visited the U.S. in 2012.

Overall, 200 million mainland Chinese will travel abroad in 2020, double the number who ventured overseas last year, according to an analysis released Monday by Aaron Fischer, the Hong Kong head of consumer and gaming research at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.

And their spending worldwide will grow even faster -- to triple 2012 levels, as household incomes rise and relaxed visa restrictions make foreign travel easier.

California was the top U.S. destination for mainland Chinese visitors in 2012, CLSA found, with 46% of those coming to America visiting the state. New York was second, at 31%.

California's large population of ethnic Chinese and Chinese university students is pulling more visitors to the state, the report said, noting that USC and UCLA are among the most "internationalized" colleges in the country.

China is already the biggest source of overseas visitors to Los Angeles. The city saw a record 42.2 million travelers last year, with 6.2 million from abroad. The number of Chinese visitors was up 21% from 2012, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board said earlier this month.

Already, flights between L.A. and mainland China are 84% full, on average, the CLSA study found.

Chinese tourists are the second biggest-spending foreign visitors to the U.S. -- just behind Indians and ahead of Australians, Brazilians and Japanese -- with an average budget of $4,400 per visit, not including airfare, CLSA said. Chinese prefer to visit L.A. and New York over London or Paris, even though flights to those cities are shorter and cheaper.

Surprisingly, the study found that Chinese visitors stay on average 42 nights in the U.S., compared with 17 to 19 nights for overseas visitors as a whole. Nearly 36% of Chinese are either in the country on business or for conventions.

While the projected influx of mainland tourists bodes well for many businesses -- from hotels to Vegas casinos and even cosmetic brands -- the report cautioned that many U.S. hotels are not equipped to deal with rising numbers of Chinese visitors.

In particular, the study said, U.S. hotels need more Mandarin speakers and restaurants serving Chinese food.

The CLSA report surveyed 1,006 middle-class Chinese in 41 cities, including 504 experienced travelers and 502 potential travelers. The U.S. was ranked as the most desired destination "if money was no object."

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