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China, US eye growth in tourism

Cao Yin
Updated: Sep 10,2016 9:27 AM     China Daily

Visitors view pictures at Charming Beijing Photo Exhibition at the main hall of Union Station in Washington DC on Sept 6. The exhibition is to celebrate “China-US Tourism Year” and to introduce Beijing’s tourist attractions to local people.[Photo/Xinhua]

China and the United States hope to notch 5 million tourist trips as soon as possible.

Last year, the number of trips between the nations surpassed 4.75 million, “which makes us confident to promote further cooperation with US partners in tourism insurance, tourism rescue, and tourism talent exchanges and cultivation,” said Li Jinzao, chairman of the China National Tourism Administration.

“We will protect the rights and interests of tourists from both sides by improving supervision in the tourism market,” Li said on Sept 8 at the China-US Tourism Leadership Summit in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

The better way to increase tourists and trips between the nations is to diversify channels of cooperation, according to Li.

He said that the 10-year visa policy, which came into effect in November, has triggered a boom in travel to the US, while trips from the US to China between January and June reached 1.12 million, up 8.4 percent year-on-year.

Kelly Craighead, executive director of the National Travel and Tourism Office under the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, spoke highly of the policy, saying that visa procedures for China are expected to be more convenient.

She said that they also plan to attract more Chinese visitors by diversifying US travel routes, sharing tour experiences with Chinese enterprises and providing more information online.

At the moment, Chinese visitors with a 10-year US visa have to renew their information, including home address, every two years, “which in some people’s view is a kind of a hassle, but I don’t think so,” said Ge Mu, assistant president of Caissa Travel Management.

“The 10-year visa is still attractive for Chinese tourists and contributes to travel between the nations,” Ge said.

Updating the visa online is easier and will cost about 100 yuan ($14), “and we’ll remind our members with visas to renew them via social media,” she said, adding that platforms such as WeChat are popular choices to promote Sino-US tourism.

Liz Bittner, president and CEO of Travel South USA, said that they have highlighted the use of social media to share their tour projects, “as they are important in China.”

The Chinese-language website is also updated every day to help Chinese tourists understand food, music and people in the southern US, Bittner said.

Travel agent Denise Harrell-McMillon prefers to post pictures in China first via social media after getting home. “It’s a good way for more people to understand China and then come here,” she added.