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Foreign travelers spending more on U.S. trips

Foreign travelers spending more on U.S. trips
Bam Wang, left, Zhe Chen and Shuai Wu wait for a friend shopping at the UGG store at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon, Calif. Spending by foreign visitors increased by 5% in the first eight months of 2014. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

International travelers have spent $150 billion visiting the U.S. in the first eight months of the year, a 5% increase over the same period last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Friday.

Meanwhile, Americans who traveled abroad in that same period spent $96.4 billion, creating a trade surplus of more than $53 billion, the federal agency reported.

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Spending by foreign travelers has been a boon to Los Angeles, Miami and New York, the top three ports of entry for international visitors so far this year, federal statistics show.

China continues to be the country with the biggest growth in visitors to the U.S. along with Mexico, France and Colombia, according to an earlier report by the Department of Commerce.

Businesses in Southern California are taking advantage of the surge in spending from China.

The upscale Beverly Center shopping mall on Beverly Boulevard launched a tour bus service for international shoppers this year and most of the mall stores now accept UnionPay, the bank card of China.

"Innovation is the driving force behind our multi-prong, multi-phase Chinese tourism strategy," said Susan Vance, Beverly Center's marketing and sponsorship director.

To read more on travel and the tourism industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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