Sun Nov 11, 2012, 12:24 PM
cbayer (125,925 posts)
Shanghai Surprises: Religious Tourism in the 'New New York'
Noel Irwin HentschelChairman, CEO and co-Founder, AmericanTours International
Posted: 11/11/2012 10:40 am
Shanghai is fast becoming "Manhattan of the East." My recent visit illustrated that commerce, politics and religion are becoming connected between the trading partners, the United States and China, in this dynamic international city. Good for business and good for friendship. Our distinguished Chinese government host asked me to slice the first piece of the carefully prepared roasted duck in the very same place where China's Premier Zhou Enlai and U.S. President Richard Nixon ate the same delicacy 40 years earlier, showcasing tantalizing tales and tastes for visitors to experience. Our stimulating conversation led to learning that Shanghai was the safe haven for many Jews during World War II and that there is a "Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum" worth visiting. Nearby there is a magnificent basilica called "Our Lady of Sheshan" with an interesting history. We all agreed that these historical anecdotes of Judaism and Christianity in China promoted to American and Chinese tourists are good for commerce, good for politics and good for society. It made us ponder if American foreign policy leaders who helped advance Sino-American relations including Dr. Kissinger ever imagined the China which exists today.
Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration working in concert with developers and the hospitality industry is aggressive in positioning Shanghai as the "new New York." Rapid change best describes my observations over the last several years while commuting to China regularly for business and government meetings. Major cities across China are being developed to look more like notable U.S. cities. Shanghai, "Manhattan of the East," is the best example of this plan. A modern skyline along the famous Bund and harbor along with ethnic architecture preservation like found in the French Concession reminds one of the Big Apple, New York City. But Chinatowns in the U.S. are not yet on par with China's quaint authentic historic towns.
In our visit to communities surrounding Shanghai, homes look like estates in the Orange Counties of California or Florida with man-made lakes on golf courses and Disney will soon open a theme park. Juxtaposed to this, real ancient villages with traditional Chinese courtyard houses exist side by side to the modern. We visited one such traditional village "Wuzshou." This popular place is explored by over 10,000 paying visitors a day who generate more than a million yuan ($150,000) daily in entrance fees alone into the local Chinese economy.
Imagine if America invested in developing and marketing our classical historic places like Natchez, Mississippi or downtown Detroit for the soulful Motown experience. What a difference it could make to creating sustainable jobs including in our struggling inner cities. We do not need to raise income or corporate taxes on any American to accomplish this job-creating objective. Just enforce collecting the enormous tax dollars not being paid by foreign owned tourism companies doing business in America.
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