There was plenty of action at the World Tourism Cities Federation’s annual summit, which drew representatives of the travel and hospitality industries and media outlets from around the globe for its recent two-day run at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel in the Wilshire Grand Center.

All sorts of cities, regions and countries got the chance to tell their stories to the hospitality pros and the trade press.

Chief among the self-promoters was the Chinese city of Quingdao, whose tourism officials made an especially big deal out of China Xiamen Airlines’ announcement of plans for nonstop flights between Los Angeles International Airport and Qingdao. (See related item, page 4.)

So what? Here’s what:

Quingdao is a port city-cum-beer town – known by some for the Tsingtao brand – with a metro population of more than 9 million.

It’s also on the small side when it comes to the growing air links between China and Los Angeles.

LAX hosts Air China, based in Beijing, population 22 million or so; China Eastern Airlines in Shanghai (25 million); China Southern Airlines in Guangzhou (14 million); and Sichuan Airlines in Chengdu (15 million). It also features flights by Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines, both based in a Special Administrative Region of China with a population of close to 8 million.

There’s plenty of hyperbole whenever talks turn to U.S.-China relations these days. Plenty of business rolls on despite the hype.

Consider that a check of recent schedules indicates there will be nonstop service between Los Angeles and at least seven cities in China by December, when China Air adds service to Shenzhen and China Xiamen initiates service to Quingdao.

Look at a list of the seven largest cities in the United States and you’ll work your way down to San Antonio, whose population would fit into Quingdao about six times over – and about eight times over for Shenzhen.

That’s too much potential to pass up in a world where technology regularly shrinks distance.

And that’s why it’s useful to note some actual numbers that might inform an understanding of more than the obvious raw totals behind the growth of China – which can give pause to anyone who sees global trade as a zero-sum proposition. Indeed, the growing travel links also point up the less obvious numbers pertaining to a burgeoning middle class that’s feeding increasing numbers of customers to businesses here.

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