China / Society

'Amazing' hike marks tourism year

By Su Zhou (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-26 00:05

'Amazing' hike marks tourism year

Two US tourists pose as they scale the Great Wall's Jinshanling section in Hebei province on Friday. They are among 1,000 US travelers who hiked the Great Wall on Friday to mark the China-US Tourism Year. ZHAO WEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

To celebrate the China-US Tourism Year, 1,000 tourists from the United States hiked on Friday on the Great Wall's Jinshanling section in Hebei province — one of the best-preserved sections of the wall.

Patricia Carmen, 74, from New York City, said it was her first trip to the Great Wall, as well as to China.

"The trip was amazing, even though I couldn't complete the climb and reach the top of the wall," said Carmen. "I am still happy to be here."

Carmen said she and the other members of her group would stay for two weeks and visit Xi'an, Shaanxi province, as well as Shanghai.

This year was set as China-US Tourism Year during President Xi Jinping's visit to the US in September. It aims to increase travel and tourism between the countries by enhancing the travel experience, increasing travelers' cultural understanding and expanding the appreciation of natural landscapes.

"In 2015, total bilateral visits surpassed 4.75 million. We hope the number will surpass 5 million this year," said Li Shihong, deputy director of the China National Tourism Administration.

"As a wonder of human civilization, the Great Wall has a strong appeal to US tourists. Visiting the Great Wall is a dream of many Americans," added Li. "When talking about China, many US tourists might think about chopsticks, giant pandas, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. But China is more than these cultural symbols."

Li said he hopes more people in the US will get to know the real China and Chinese people.

Besides hiking on the Great Wall, other major events scheduled for this special tourism year include a promotion titled "Beautiful China-Maritime Silk Road", a high-level China-US dialogue on tourism to be held in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, and a grand closing ceremony at the end of the year.

Another of the US tourists, Luca Berrone of Urbandale, Iowa, said that to attract more US tourists to China, events like the Great Wall hike are fundamental.

"Discovering different areas and lifestyles of the Chinese is really fascinating," said Berrone, the head of SACMI USA, a subsidiary of an Italian manufacturing company. "Americans would like to find more areas outside of the standard tourism spots" to visit.

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