Alaska eyes stronger engagement with China on tourism, gas
By CGTN’s Wang Guan
Governor of Alaska Bill Walker is in talks with several airlines to set up direct flight routes from China to the northwestern US state.
Walker said he is eager to see more Chinese tourists coming to Alaska to enjoy the Northern Lights, the icebergs and the wild salmon.
China Tourism Academy (CTA) said that in 2016, around 122 million Chinese headed abroad on vacation, the largest number of outbound holidaymakers of any country.
But only one percent of those headed for the wilds of Alaska, something Walker is keen to see change with easier airplane access to the state from the Chinese mainland.
But the trade picture looks brighter. China has been Alaska’s largest trading partner for a number of years and last year, a third of the state’s exports worth around 1.2 billion US dollars, went to China.
In April, when Chinese President Xi Jinping left Florida after talks with his US counterpart Donald Trump, he made an unexpected stop in Alaska and was received by state governor Bill Walker.
Following talks, the two sides agreed on new areas of cooperation, including natural gas.
Keith Meyer, president of Alaska’s largest natural gas development company, Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), also met with Xi.
“President Xi said to me China has 100 years of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) demand and I said to him we have 100 years of LNG supply,” he explained.
According to Meyer, the AGDC has decades-worth of proven gas supply and one of the company’s advantages is its proximity to the Asian market.
“We are 7-9 days of shipping to Asia and it is direct,” Meyer said.