Free Global Tour Awaits Two Lucky Families
Two families — one from China and one from the US — will be sent on a 30-day global tour organized by tourism officials in Hangzhou as the city in east China’s Zhejiang Province works to promote its image as a world-class travel destination.
The trip, known as the Hangzhou China Global Tour 2015, is scheduled to start on July 24, when the lucky winners will depart Hangzhou on a trip that will cross seven countries.
The selection process runs though June 19. The final winners will be chosen via a series of contests held on television and the Internet.
For Chinese families, a winner will be chosen based on knowledge of Hangzhou as well as their performance on a talent show. For American families, judges will also be looking for people who have some familiarity with the city’s culture and history. At least one member of each family needs to be active on social media, and knowledge of both English and Chinese will be an advantage.
Children of contestants should be between the ages of six and 15 years.
“All participants will be required to hold passports and show a passion for travel, meeting people and learning about different cultures,” said Zhao Hongzhong, vice director of the Hangzhou Tourism Commission.
Hangzhou is already considered one of China’s most attractive cities as well as one of its top tourist destinations. Last year, the city received some 94 million domestic visitors, as well as 3 million foreign tourists. Currently, tourism authorities are working to bolster Hangzhou’s global profile and hope to some day put the city on par with the likes of Shanghai in the minds of overseas travelers.
The local government’s upcoming global tour is part and parcel of these efforts. The tour will include one journalist from China and one from the US, who will accompany the winners to record their trip in a series of online dispatches.
Last Sunday, a talent show was organized where 20 families of Chinese contestants were whittled down to five. Married couple Xiong Wenying and Fu Wei, along with their son, were among those left in contention. Xiong and Fu applied to take part in the contest after reading about it in the media some two months ago.
“Our family travels every summer and winter vacation,” said Fu. Fu added that the family has never been on an extended grand tour. If chosen, Fu hopes the family can drive in each of their destinations and also stay in the houses of locals.
Fu, a Hangzhou native, is the former director of the Hangzhou International Center. She speaks fluent French and English. Her husband, Xiong, is an artist who has lived in the US. Their seven-year-old son is also a seasoned traveler, having been to the US, England and France.
The family of Jerry Zhou, a bilingual taxi driver, were also among the final five. During the talent show, Zhou and his family staged a comedic routine using various foreign languages.
“My daily job is to promote Hangzhou in Hangzhou,” said Zhou, “but with this (trip) I can promote Hangzhou in other parts of the world.”
The tour will include a visit to Dunhuang, in northwest China’s Gansu Province, and then move west along the ancient Silk Road. It will also include stops on the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini, Dubrovnik in Croatia as well as Venice, Geneva, Paris, Boston and New York. “We included an American element in this contest because we want to attract more US tourists to our lovely city,” explained Zhao.
Boats, planes and trains will be used during the tour, and all expenses will be covered by the Hangzhou government and sponsors such as Eurail, Costa Cruise Line and Chinese bottled water brand Nongfu Spring.
Cultural exchange activities are scheduled for certain stops, including Boston and Dubrovnik.
In a campaign launched last year, tourism authorities in Hangzhou hired a Swiss citizen to promote the city’s tourism industry via social media. His posts quickly became popular both in China and abroad.
“The results of that campaign exceeded our expectations,” said Zhao. “Our campaign this year will start from Hangzhou and seek to make new friends around the world.”
For information on the contest, see www.globaltour2015.com.
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