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US woos Chinese tourists to national parks

THE number of Chinese tourists to the United States is expected to rise by 120 percent over the next five years, according to the US Department of Commerce. China is expected to top the United Kingdom and Japan to become the largest long-distance market of the US. Last year, the number was 2.6 million.

Many of these Chinese tourists visited parks and monuments that belong to the National Park System (NPS) such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Statue of Liberty, among other popular destinations.

Recently, Brand USA, America’s tourism promoter, released a movie “National Parks Adventure” on Chinese streaming site Youku to help Chinese tourists to discover more about the over 400 national parks.

“Our digital strategy has expanded significantly in China,” Anne Madison, Brand USA’s chief strategy and communications officer, told Shanghai Daily on why they chose to release the film in China. “We have worked with Youku for a long time and we have seen good results. It’s a very important platform. It’s got the audience, and we wanted to make the film available to as many people as possible.”

The 42-minute IMAX movie, which was released in the US last year, was to commemorate the centenary of NPS, which was created in 1916 to manage, protect and preserve the national treasures.

For the film, the cast and crew carried the giant IMAX camera to 30 different national parks — mountain biking in the scorching sun in Moab, Utah, to ice climbing in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan.

Adventures

“The idea was to create a film that would help people to see and celebrate the great outdoors in the US,” Madison explained. “The filmmakers said to us, ‘what other way to talk about a really big country like the US with a really big film?’ This is literally a really big film, shot on real strips of films with huge camera that is so heavy that they can only shoot two minutes at a time.”

Narrated by Robert Redford, the film is one of the actor’s last projects before he announced his retirement last November. Instead of a documentary showing beautiful nature, the movie follows world-famous mountaineer Conrad Anker, adventure photographer Max Lowe and artist Rachel Pohl through their adventures. It includes climbing the steep Devils Tower, the first declared National Monument.

“They are real people, real climbers and adventurers. They are the heroes of the film. We want to make travelers the heroes,” said Madison.

“If you have never been to any national parks, there are two great places for first-time visitors. One is Washington DC, because you can go to so many national parks in a day. It is full of history. The other is to go west to Yosemite because you can spend days and days there with nature.”

The organization is now working with the same filmmakers on a second movie that will take the viewers to different places in the US for food, iconic destinations, entertainment and other attractions.

“We look at music as being a universal language that needs no translation. We want to show viewers the things that make America great, how music changed, how food has changed from region to region, and how all these things that are uniquely American have actually been influenced by places all over the world,” she said.


 

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