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Clinton China Trip Sparks Interest

July 26, 1998

President Clinton's recently completed trip to China has sparked more queries from potential U.S. tourists--especially about lesser-known sites Guilin and Xian--but no big bounce in bookings yet, travel agents report. U.S. tourism to China was already rising modestly earlier this year.

Yaying Lee of the China National Tourist Office in Glendale said she's noticed a "quite obvious increase" in phone calls seeking information and brochures since Clinton's visit. Both the tourist office and San Diego-based Japan & Orient Tours, which sends about 3,000 tourists to China each year, have boosted advertising to capitalize on the trip. But it hasn't yet translated into more bookings.

Despite the Asian currency crisis, which has cut visits by Asians to China by 20% or more, tourism overall to China was up nearly 14% through May, boosted by 3.4% more Americans and also more Europeans, Australians and New Zealanders, Lee said. An exception is Hong Kong, where tourist arrivals are down 21% this year, according to the Hong Kong Tourist Assn.

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