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Interview: China-U.S. tourism vital to people-to-people exchanges
China-U.S. tourism is on a growth trajectory and has helped expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries, a U.S. tourism expert said.
Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, an organization dedicated to marketing the United States as a premier travel destination, told Xinhua on Wednesday that bilateral tourism plays a critical role in "bringing cultures and people together for greater understanding."
"In the case of our two nations where the cultures are very different, and the language is obviously a barrier, travel really serves a great way of introducing the destination to the individuals," he said.
According to Brand USA, China has become the number one market for U.S. travel and tourism exports and is its largest market in terms of spending.
In 2016, almost 3 million Chinese people visited the United States, compared with less than 400,000 in 2007, and spent 33 billion U.S. dollars in tourism expenses.
Thompson said they expected "an additional 3 million Chinese visitors in the next three to four years."
In November 2014, the two countries extended visa validity for tourists from one to 10 years. Last year, the two sides launched the 2016 China-U.S. Tourism Year.
The visa policy and the year of tourism program have both paid great dividends, Thompson said, adding that leaders of the two sides have created an important platform to "talk about the positive economic and diplomatic contributions of travel and tourism."
"That really helps us realize all the benefits we were looking to accomplish," he said.
  Source: Xinhua Net

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