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Entrepreneur likes prospects for traveling around Russia

By Michael Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-04 00:32

When Wang Shilin closes his eyes and thinks about Russia, the first picture that comes to his mind isn't the grand palace of a czar or the frenzied shopping in modern Moscow.

Wang sees 2,000 smiling Chinese, relaxing on a cruise ship steaming up the Volga River.

That's his goal as general manager of Global Travel, which operates summer tours on the legendary waterway that are exclusively for Chinese tourists.

"Six months in advance, we rent the whole boat," he says, opening his arms wide. "Chinese enjoy mixing with foreigners, we are friendly people. But for a cruise like that, for about a week, we like having familiar food and guide service in our own language."

"This is the fifth year this cruise has been operating," he says. "Most of our customers come to us thanks to word of mouth."

Wang's team took a thousand Chinese on the Moscow-St. Petersburg route in 2012, on four boats, and feels confident about doubling the passengers — and revenue — this year.

Thinking big is nothing new for Wang. The chief of protocol for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games — officially the vice-director of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games International Relations Department, his job was to "make sure that the Olympic Family members will enjoy their stay in Beijing", from the International Olympic Committee members to athletes to VIP guests.

A large photo near his office entrance shows a smiling Wang escorting veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger to his seat during the Games. Other pictures show Wang greeting all sorts of other global celebrities during that momentous event for China.

Now he is focusing his people skills on making Chinese guests happy, and more than half of that effort is focused on travelers headed to Russia.

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