Tourism, business, and education groups partnered again this year for the Southern Oregon—China Tourism, Business & Education Conference, which was held June 2-5, 2011.  The conference kicked off with a special reception on June 2, hosted by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Special guest, China’s Ambassador Gao, the Consul General from San Francisco, attended, along with more than 50 delegates representing business, tourism, and education. 
In addition to Ambassador Gao, the delegation included Mr. Zhao Yumin, Secretary General of Tianjin Commission of Commerce; Ms. Delette Olberg of Trina Solar Ltd; Mr. Wilson Chen, President/CEO of American Pacific International Capital, Inc., and Ms. Qian Weirong, President, Tianjin Institute of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade.

(l to r) Kerrie Walters, Grants Pass Tourism; Consul General Gao; Anne Jenkins, Medford VCB; Teresa O'Neill, Travel Oregon; Carolyn Hill, SOVA

On June 3, the focus shifted to Grants Pass, with the official welcome luncheon and presentation at TapRock Event Center.  During the luncheon, Ambassador Gao gave an eloquent speech. “Time flies,” noted Ambassador Gao, “When we said goodbye to each other on the same day last year, we said we wanted to meet again in friendship. Last year was one of my most enjoyable visits in this country, so this time we brought twice as many in my contingent.”  Ambassador Gao spoke to the extraordinary “effort and enthusiasm” for the conference, noting that it “shows your profound friendship and interaction, and I want to express how deeply touched I am by this.”

Representative Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point, District 4), who has been a leading force in establishing Oregon-China relations, was also in attendance. Ambassador Gao entreated the audience to “help me give applause to Dennis and all the other legislators, state and local. Thank you for your participation and support.”  In addition to Representative Richardson, other Southern Oregon legislators at the luncheon included:  Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point, District 2); and Representative Sal Esquivel (R-Medford, District 6).

Director of International Tourism for Travel Oregon, Teresa O’Neill, officially welcomed the delegates to Oregon. Thanks to the expertise and support of Travel Oregon, video shot during the 2010 Southern Oregon-China Tourism, Business & Education Conference was turned into a high-quality DVD, complete with voiceover in Mandarin. The video is available online and copies have been distributed at International travel trade and other shows in China.  

Friday afternoon, the group enjoyed a private jetboat trip on the Rogue River, with Hellgate Jetboat Excursions. Dinner that evening was held at the elegant Irvine Estate in Ashland.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake - Southern Oregon

Saturday, June 4 marked the business and education portion of the conference; from 8-11:30am, at Bigham Knoll Event Center in Jacksonville. Students from the Tianjin Cathay Future Arts School performed and this was a highlight of the event.  In addition to a distinguished panel of speakers from China and from the Consul General’s office in San Francisco, the program included presentations by:  Ron Fox, Executive Director, SOREDI; Steve Crowley, Director of Business Development, Erickson Air-Crane; and Frank Phillips, St. Mary’s High School / Confucius Classroom.In the afternoon, the delegation traveled to Crater Lake National Park for a ranger-guided tour (earlier in the week Ambassador Gao and his staff had enjoyed a tour with Superintendent Craig Ackerman). That evening, a Western BBQ, sponsored by the Southern Oregon Visitors Associationand Travel Oregon, was part of a fun night at the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo in Central Point.   On the final day of the conference, a gallery reception and showing was held at the Illahee Gallery in Ashland. For the second year, the group  participated in the Rogue Valley Veterans Pow Wow in White City.    

At the Wild Rogue Pro Rodeo in 2010

SOVA LOGOAbout the Southern Oregon Visitors Association (SOVA) 
A non-profit regional destination marketing organization covering a seven-county area:  Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Klamath, Lake, Curry, and Coos.  SOVA’s mission:  to increase and lengthen visitor stays in the region by marketing the region as a destination and encouraging cooperative efforts in the areas of outreach marketing, visitor research, education, and public relations.  SOVA is the official Regional Destination Marketing Organization for Region 5, working closely with the state’s tourism leaders, Travel Oregon (the Oregon Tourism Commission).    Industry website: .   Contact Carolyn S. Hill, CEO – - Hill was recently appointed to the Joint Oregon Legislative Committee for the Oregon-Fujian Sister State. 



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