Chinese New Year celebrations held

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Increasing numbers of Chinese tourists have traveled abroad in recent years, bringing Chinese culture and influences with them. The city of Beverley Hills, in the US state of California, recently kicked off a month long celebration to mark the upcoming Lunar New Year.

Wang Hui, secretary general of Beijing municipal commission of cultural exchanges, speaks at the press conference for the cultural event "Happy Chinese New Year, - Charming Beijing" in Beijing on Nov. 17th, 2015. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

Local business leaders in California say their state is a favorite destination for Chinese visitors. For 5 consecutive years, the city of Beverly Hills has hosted events to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Last Friday, a special event kicked off a month of celebrations called "Happy Chinese New Year, - Charming Beijing."

The event was a collaboration between various US and Chinese tourist organizations. Acts were brought in from Beijing to entertain the audience, among them dignitaries. A display of Chinese fashion and jewelry was also made available for guests to purchase.

Julie Wagner is CEO of the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau. She says the event is meant as a gesture of appreciation for local Chinese and Chinese visitors.

"It's our way of giving back to the local Chinese community. So many of them come and bring business to us and they stay with us and they shop with us and they bring people from overseas, family, friends and so it's just our way of saying, 'thank you so much' and it's a way for us to share the Chinese culture with the local Beverly Hills Community too."

Brand USA is an organization that promotes travel to the US. Its figures show 2.2 million Chinese visitors traveled to the US in 2014. Wagner adds that in 2014, Chinese visitors spent an average of 16 nights in California and spent over 2,000 US dollars there per person per visit.

Wagner expects 2018 will bring 1.8 million Chinese visitors to California alone.

The celebrations are also a good way to entice Americans to visit China.

"It's those things, the expressions of art, the expressions of drama, the expressions of writing and poetry that really bring people together. They evoke emotions that are universal. They are not unique to a particular country and although the expressions from the Chinese way of doing it, may be different from ours, I think we all learn from them and we all feel great about it."

Consul General Liu Jian of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles says he hopes these events will introduce to Americans the Chinese way of life.

"As countries, we are not only developing the economy, but culture is the bridge that connects two peoples, so I think that this is a very good practice, because now the Americans are well known in China through American English learning, but we hope that through those festivals and activities that more American people know China's history, China's culture and Chinese living."

The Year of the Monkey arrives on February 8 this year.

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