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China, US vow to boost tourism

Updated: Dec 18,2014 3:54 PM     Xinhua

CHICAGO — China and the United States vowed on Dec 17 to further enhance bilateral cooperation in boosting tourism and people-to-people exchanges.

At a forum on China-U.S. tourism cooperation held in Chicago as part of the ongoing 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), visiting Vice-Premier Wang Yang said a recent decision by both governments to extend the validity of tourist visas for each other’s citizens will provide great development opportunities for tourism industries of both countries.

Wang, who is co-chairing the JCCT session along with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Trade Representative Michael Froman in Chicago, pointed out that travel and tourism have enjoyed robust growth in China-U.S. commerce and trade cooperation, and also become a critical part of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Over the past decade, the number of tourists traveling between China and the United States has reached 28 million, with an annual growth rate of 10 percent.

According to the vice-premier, the two countries should work together to make the total number of tourist visits each year exceed 5 million as early as possible, with 10 million as the next goal.

Stressing that tourism development can both produce economic benefits and promote friendship, Wang urged both sides to create a more travel-friendly environment through further simplifying entry and exit procedures, establishing a regular contact and information sharing mechanism, and expanding relevant investment cooperation.

In her address, Pritzker said that thanks to the recent change of visa policy, some 7.3 million Chinese visitors are expected to travel to the United States by 2021, contributing nearly 8.5 billion dollars a year to the U.S. economy and supporting as many as 440,000 American jobs.

She also mentioned the need for additional steps to support the increased travel demand that will accompany the visa validity extension, such as the expansion of airline capacity and infrastructure investment.

The tourism forum attracted more than 200 participants from governments and industry of both countries.

The three co-chairs of the JCCT session also attended and addressed several other events in Chicago, including a forum on China-U.S. agricultural and food cooperation, a round-table on China-U.S. investment, and a luncheon with Chinese and American business leaders.

The JCCT session will conclude on Dec 18 following a closed-door plenary meeting.