A delegation from a Chinese university visited Park City on Wednesday as school officials continued considering launching a program that would bring students to the city to learn about the resort industry.
The delegation, from Shanghai, included two ranking faculty members in Shanghai Normal University's School of Finance and Business. They stopped at City Hall on Wednesday morning to meet with Mayor Dana Williams.
The university is discussing a program involving between four and eight students each year. They would spend time living in Park City and interning at businesses connected to the resort industry. The program could start in August 2013 and involve a partnership between Shanghai Normal University and the University of Utah. The students could be studying fields like marketing and information technology.
The delegation from China said the students would be familiar with Park City as a destination once they graduate and start working in tourism-related fields. Williams said City Hall wants to assist in the discussions between the Chinese university and the University of Utah. Park City Mountain Resort was also represented on Wednesday as a place where the students could intern under the program.
One of the members of the Chinese delegation, Wu Xiaoye, said there is a long-running relationship with the University of Utah and the timing worked well to start a program involving Park City. Xiaoye teaches tourism and marketing at Shanghai Normal University and directs the office of international affairs for the School of Finance and Business.
She said the recreation business in China is developing quickly, but the ski industry is still fledgling. She said skiing has not become popular yet in China.
"We hope our students can also be pioneers," she said.
Xiaoye said the Chinese ski industry hopes to attract more customers from the United States, noting that the group can learn from the internationally known resorts in Park City. She said there have been some successes in the global tourism marketplace.
"China is also becoming international, not just for Chinese customers," she said.
The group from China indicated the number of Chinese citizens traveling overseas during a recent holiday doubled. Many of them visited the United States or Europe, they said. Chinese tourists traveling abroad at first wanted to visit states like California and Nevada or see New York City, they said. Chinese travelers have more recently shown interest in places like Hawaii and America's natural wonders like Yellowstone National Park, the group said.
Park City, though, is not well known among Chinese travelers, but it is increasing its brand there, they said.
The group, meanwhile, said 2012 has been a year of adjustment in the Chinese economy. They said they anticipate the economy there to grow with domestic rather than international consumption.
The Wednesday visit continues efforts by Park City to strengthen relations with the tourism industry in the world's most populous country. Park City leaders and tourism officials see China as someday becoming a much more important market than it is now.
Williams traveled to China last spring, partly for tourism promotion. He made stops in the capital of Beijing and Shanghai to talk about Park City as a destination. It was his second trip to China as mayor, following a 2007 visit as part of a friendship program with Park City High School.
The Park City Chamber/Bureau, meanwhile, plans to send a representative to Shanghai in November to participate in a show alongside Utah tourism officials.