China-U.S. forum calls for closer tourism cooperation

Chinese and U.S. officials and industry leaders on Thursday stressed the importance of tourism cooperation to bilateral ties and called for closer people-to-people exchanges.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the 2019 U.S.-China Tourism Leadership Summit held in Seattle, Washington state governor Jay Inslee said the state is the only one in the country where visitors can experience the combined wonderful scenes of rocky coastlines, beaches, rain forests, wheat fields and high plateau areas that are scattered in other states.

Underscoring the importance of tourism to both China and the United States, Inslee said the people-to-people relations stemming from tourism "are translated into peace and understanding."

"We hope that we can find a way to work together to expand people's opportunity. This is not just a matter of tourism the way we look at this relationship. The economic, cultural and intellectual relationships of our nations are growing so rapidly here in the United States," he said.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. /VCG Photo

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. /VCG Photo

Inslee said "the skies (of cooperation between the two countries) are unlimited," and Washington has set a goal that "every Chinese citizen would spend at least one week in the state of Washington during their lifetime." 

Phil Lovas, deputy assistant secretary of the National Travel and Tourism Office under the U.S. Department of Commerce, said the U.S.-China Tourism Leadership Summit, now in its 13th year, offers an important opportunity to leaders from U.S. states and Chinese provinces and municipalities to share their best practices and develop deeper cultural understanding.

"The summit is also important in developing new business opportunities," he said. 

Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, one of the event's co-organizers, said travel and tourism is "the shining star." 

"It is about bringing people and cultures together, building bridges and driving economy," Thompson added.

Li Yaying, chief of the Chinese delegation to the summit, said the dialogue is the first event ever held in the United States since the merge of the Ministry of Culture with the National Tourism Administration to form a new Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as part of China's widespread institutional reshuffle last year. 

She said China and the United States are each other's important source country of tourists and destinations, with Chinese tourists spending a total of more than 30 billion U.S. dollars in the United States in 2018.

China and the United States have been taking turns to host the annual dialogue since the platform was launched in 2007. Aimed at seeking meaningful interaction between the two countries, the event has become an important way for tourism regulators, associations and businesses to deepen communications. 

The last China-U.S. tourism dialogue was held in east China's Hangzhou in 2018.

(Cover: Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency