Yunnan province to strut in Times Square

Updated: 2014-12-31 09:53

By NIU YUE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Yunnan province to strut in Times Square

Chinese artist Yuan Xikun (left), from Yunnan province, and his son stand in front of the New Year Crystal Ball in Times Square in New York on Tuesday. Yuan's artworks are now being displayed on a screen in Times Square.Yunnan province will present a performance featuring its culture and tourism resources in Times Square Countdown on New Year's Eve. Lu Huiquan/for China Daily.

China's Yunnan province will soon get some publicity in the Center of the Universe.

A promotional video about the border province in Southwest China will be shown more than 1,000 times on giant screens above ABC's Good Morning America studio in New York's Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Singers and dancers will also perform during the Times Square New Year's Eve countdown Wednesday beginning at 6 pm.

The 10-minute show will feature two top Yunnan folk singers and also a dancing performance: Wishes from Peacock. The peacock is considered an auspicious bird among ethnic groups in Yunnan.

Yunnan, in southwestern China, is known for its year-round warm climate and diverse landscape. Home to 52 of the 56 ethnic groups in China, the province boasts rich ethnic cultures, religions, song and dance, cuisines and cities more than 1,000 years old. Yunnan borders Burma, Laos and Vietnam.

Some 5.3 million international tourists visited the province in 2013, up 16.5 percent from the previous year.

"The numbers have been on two-digit growth," said Duan Yueqing, director of the Yunnan Provincial Tourism Administration.

Most of the international tourists are from Asia-Pacific region countries, and the province is not yet widely known in North and South America. Around 290,000 international visitors came from the Americas last year - 150,000 from the United States.

"We want more people to know about Yunnan, and more people to come here," said Duan.

To facilitate trips across the Pacific, Yunnan plans direct flights next year from Kunming, Yunnan's capital, to Vancouver and San Francisco on China Eastern Airlines.

Around 1 million people turn out at the countdown celebration in Times Square every year to watch the ball drop as the signal of a new year. The global television audience for the event is estimated at 1 billion by the Times Square Alliance.

"It is the world's largest countdown, and a global spotlight," said Zhang Jinping, president of the Sino-American Friendship Association, a non-profit organization that has been helping local Chinese governments promote tourism for years. "We are using this premium platform to promote Chinese culture and tourism."

Beijing, Shandong and the China National Tourism Office also have staged performances in Times Square.

The US is China's fourth-largest source of foreign visitors, and because it hosts internationally renowned events like the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and the countdown, it has become a valuable marketing venue for China.

The Beijing government sponsored a float in the Macy's parade aimed at international tourists, especially those from the US. An advertisement about Beijing's tourism sites and its 72-hour visa-free policy were shown on PATH trains between New York and New Jersey from Nov 18 to Dec 17.

The provincial government of Shandong, where Confucius was born, put on a show featuring Confucianism and Chinese martial arts at last year's New Year's Eve countdown.

Lu Huiquan in New York contributed to this story.