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On Saturday November 19, 2016 the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) hosted "Beautiful China Night: Closing Ceremony of the 2016 US-China Tourism Year " at the Verizon Center in conjunction with an NBA basketball game between the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat. The evening's event included attendance and special speeches from Li, Jinzao, Chairman of China National Tourism Administration, Kelly Craighead, Executive Director of the US Department of Commerce Tourism Travel Office, Christopher Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA, and Roger Dow, President and CEO of US Travel Association. The event was also attended by Du, Jiang, Vice-Chairman of China National Tourism Administration, Shirley Yu-Tsui, Country General Manager for Visa China, representatives from Washington Wizards and US-China Tourism industry.
Li, Jinzao indicated, in September 2015, the U.S President Obama and the President of the People's Republic of China Xi, Jinping, announced 2016 to be the 'U.S.-China Tourism Year', a joint initiative to expand and shape US-China travel and tourism. This year's collaboration ceremony kicked off this February in Beijing, China. President Obama and Chairman Xi, Jinping each sent congratulatory videos to support the initiative.
The past year has included over 100 events to promote variety exchanges between the two countries, provide better information and easier access to each country's top destinations. Kelly Craighead explained as the US-China tourism year draws to a close, this year’s exchange activities were very successful in promoting economic development, strengthening mutual understanding and friendship, and enhancing tourism between the United States and China.
Group photo of VIP guests: Li, Jinzao, Chairman of China National Tourism Administration (fifth from the left) , Kelly Craighead, Executive Director of the US Department of Commerce Tourism Travel Office (fourth from the right), Du, Jiang, Vice-Chairman of China National Tourism Administration (third from the right), Christopher Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA (fourth from the left), Shirley Yu-Tsui, Country General Manager for Visa China (second from the left), Ted Leonsis, CEO of the Washington Wizards (second from the right) etc.
Before the Washington Wizards took on the Miami Heat for Saturday evening's basketball game，a traditional Chinese lion eye dotting ceremony took place followed by a Chinese traditional lion dance and Kungfu performances across the basketball court at half time. The deep bass and energizing sound of Chinese drums served to celebrate this milestone event in US-China relations.
The event served to further establish Sino-US tourism as a path way to connect people around the world by learning and sharing each other's culture and traditions. "Beautiful China Night” became a major highlight of the game that night. Over twenty thousand fans came to experience the traditional American sport of basketball during the game.
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