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Gaming Guru

Richard N. Velotta
 

Chinese Officials to Address Tourism Conference

13 December 2005

When nearly 1,000 people gather for Nevada's largest tourism conference next week, they'll be addressed by two men whom most people have never heard of, but who could play a key role in the state's economic fortunes.

Xiquin Zhang and Changjiang Yu are scheduled to speak at the Governor's Conference on Tourism at Wynn Las Vegas, which runs Monday through Wednesday. It's the first time that Chinese officials have been featured so prominently in the state's tourism conference.

"These are really top-notch people," said Bruce Bommarito, director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism. "Mr. Yu is the head of tourism in Beijing, which has a population of 40 million people, a tremendous market for us. It's a landmark to have somebody of his caliber speak at our conference."

California gets the most visitors from China, but Bommarito said Nevada -- specifically Las Vegas -- is the best-known U.S. destination. He said California gets more visitors only because most flights from China land at California airports. State and local officials are continuing their efforts to attract nonstop air service between China and Las Vegas and Reno.

Nevada continues to enjoy the status of being the only U.S. entity to have a license to advertise and promote outbound travel in China. State officials secured the license after making several visits to China, bolstering cultural bonds and friendship agreements with several Chinese provinces.

If you're among those asking, "Yu who?" you're not alone.

Yu is director general of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Tourism while Zhang is vice chairman of the China National Tourism Administration. The two are among the highest ranking tourism officials of the nation Nevada officials expect will someday become the state's largest international market.

Yu also is bringing, at his office's expense, a troupe of 30 entertainers to the conference.

Bommarito said globalization is the key to expanding the state's tourism market. In addition to playing host to the Chinese, the conference will enable face-to-face meetings with global representatives of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority from Japan, Korea, Great Britain, Germany and Australia.

The Commission on Tourism also plans meetings for tourism representatives from across the state and will get updates on the state's "Nevada Passage" television program. Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the Travel Industry Association of America, and Walton Chalmers, vice president of the American Gaming Association, also are scheduled as speakers.