Nevada China Delegation Pushes For Flights

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Nevada's trade delegation had a productive meeting with Chinese aviation officials in Beijing in a bid to begin direct passenger service with Las Vegas and air cargo routes to Reno, Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt said Sunday.

Hunt told officials for the Nevada Commission on Tourism by telephone that she and other members of the tourism and trade delegation met in Beijing with Yang Guoqing, vice minister of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China.

"We were able to point out the excellent opportunities for both tourism and trade between our state and the People's Republic of China," Hunt said in a statement released by the commission on Sunday.

"This was a productive first day for us in China," she said.

Hunt chairs both the Nevada Commission on Tourism and the Nevada Commission on Economic Development. During the 10-day mission through Oct. 19, the delegation will meet with Chinese officials in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau.

Krys Bart, executive director of Reno-Tahoe International Airport, told Chinese aviation officials about Reno's round-the-clock customs services allow cargo to be cleared in 24 hours.

Hunt said Guoqing agreed there is a need to increase flights between Nevada and the People's Republic of China.

She said he indicated he would encourage civilian airlines in China to begin feasibility studies regarding both tourism and cargo facilities in Nevada. He also suggested that charter flights could fill the gap in tourism flights until feasibility studies are completed, Hunt said.

Nevada's delegation is being hosted by the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, which was founded in 1949.

Bruce Bommarito, executive director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, is helping lead the delegation that includes officials from the tourism, hotel and casino industries as well as the travel industry.

Hunt has said she is trying to put new emphasis on attracting international travelers to Nevada, especially in Asia. She planned the trip originally in March, but rescheduled due to concerns about the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS.