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Bureau director tours China with Washington group

Diane Schostak, director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, is traveling with Gov. Christine Gregoire's delegation of 70 to the People's Republic of China for eight days in September.

Gregoire leads a Washington trade delegation to China and Vietnam, two of the state's top trade partners. The group will visit Beijing and Shanghai, China's major travel industry centers, to connect the state's private and public travel organizations with Chinese travel media and tour operators, airline and embassy officials.

The intent is to develop long-term relationships, to educate about Washington as a travel destination and to extend friendship. Last year, 30,000 Chinese visited Washington and that number is predicted to double by 2012.

"Traditionally, first-time international visitors to the U.S. go to Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas," Schostak said. "This trade mission will reach Chinese travel professionals as they are just beginning to explore the U.S. travel product, and we intend to see that travel to Washington state is at the top of their list."

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