SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Chinese tourism in the United States is skyrocketing and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee wants to be sure the city grabs its share of tourist dollars.

On Tuesday, Lee helped kick off a promotional event near the Union Square Hilton in an effort to draw attention to China’s growing role in U.S. tourism.

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Many hotels in the city are being urged to make the Chinese feel welcome, especially since they collectively spent $5 billion in the U.S. last year alone.

KCBS’ Bob Melrose:

Lee said Chinese tourism in America is booming.

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“I think that tourism from China is increasing at tremendous rates. It’s keeping our Chinese Consulate very busy, our U.S. Embassy very busy in processing their visas.”

Lee said it’s not just a handful of tourists trickling in.

“They’re not coming in by the ones and twos. They’re coming in by groups of twenty, fifty, one hundred at a time.”

Las Vegas is the number one draw for Chinese tourists. San Francisco is the country’s fourth most-popular destination, ahead of Hollywood.

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