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Celebrity swimmer sells state to Chinese

John Seelmeyer

When the state’s tourism chief this week signs an agreement with a Chinese company to promote Nevada to travelers from the Asian nation, he’ll provide a video of the state’s attractions.

Chinese audiences will see fast-paced shots of golfing, skiing, big-name entertainers and fine shopping.

Viewers of the video, however, are likely to connect just as much with the voice a Reno resident who won a silver medal for China in the 1996 Olympics.

Limin Liu, a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, provides advice to the Nevada Commission on Tourism about all things Chinese as the agency looks to expand the number of visitors from the Far East.

“We need her.

She’s fluent in the language, and she’s fluent in the culture,” said Chris Chrystal, a spokeswoman for the tourism commission.

And Liu, whose collegiate exploits as an NCAA-champion swimmer at UNR were covered by People’s Daily in Beijing, remains a popular celebrity in her home country.

Nevada officials are looking for every edge as they woo the 100 million Chinese who will be among the world’s travelers each year.

Bruce Bommarito, executive director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, this week is in China to sign a no-cost deal with HiGreen Investment & Management Co.

Ltd.

HiGreen will promote Nevada tourism to Chinese travelers.

The commission will provide HiGreen with promotional materials including the Chinese-language video.

Last week, Bommarito was in Japan, whose travelers are a major portion of the international travelers to Nevada.

After the Sept.

11 attacks, however, Japanese tourism to the United States has fallen by half.

Bommarito’s journey to Asia will be followed in June by a tourism mission led by Lt.

Gov.

Lorraine Hunt.

That group will meet with tour and travel industry officials in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

“Japan and China are very lucrative travel markets that Nevada needs to enhance,” Hunt said.

She said international travel is becoming more important to the state’s economy as it faces growing competition for tourist business.