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Tourism year kicked off by Washington, Beijing

By Su Zhou in Beijing and Amy He in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2016-03-01 10:53

Travel and tourism is the largest US services export, generating nearly $220.8 billion and supporting more than 1.1 million US jobs, according to the US Department of Commerce.

Christopher Thompson, Brand USA's president and CEO, said the tourism year gives an "enormous platform" to the travel industry to increase visitor numbers and enhance travel experiences between the two countries.

"If you look at the Chinese market, only 6 percent of people have passports-and we get 6 percent of that 6 percent-so there's just tremendous potential there," he said.

"The year in tourism is going to give us a big stage under bright lights and gives us a chance to raise our storytelling and build the relationships through the China National Tourism Administration and our Commerce Department in ways that we probably couldn't have done without that increased focus," Thompson said.

Wu Xi, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said tourism is a good way to improve mutual understanding and trust.

"Tourism is an important carrier to boost people-to-people exchange between China and the US," Wu said at a news briefing at the embassy on Feb 26 ahead of the grand opening ceremony scheduled on Monday in Beijing to mark the 2016 US-China Tourism Year.

"It's an effective way to deepen the understanding and friendship between the two peoples and an important source to boost bilateral economic and trade cooperation."

Chen Weihua in Washington contributed to this story.

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