By Lucas Lloyd
INDIANAPOLIS – A half dozen Chinese delegates are spending a week among Hoosiers gaining a greater understanding of Indiana culture and the open landscape.
“Indiana is a place where you can feel peace as you gaze at the vastness and openness of a corn field, which is something that is ideal for many Chinese,” said Liping Cai, professor of hospitality and tourism management and associate dean for diversity and international programs at Purdue University.
Chinese delegates walk through the Farm Bureau building with the Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Media Marketplace is designed to show the tourism opportunities around Indiana. Photo by Lucas Lloyd, TheStatehouseFile.com
“They wish they had one acre of land with a lot of trees surrounding their houses, but reality is they could not,” said Cai, who took the delegates to the Indiana State Fairgrounds Wednesday.
Mark Newman, executive Director of the Indiana Department of Tourism, and a group of others went to Funing County in China last year in an attempt to extend a tourism relationship overseas and the Chinese are reciprocating with this visit.
“Our desire is to develop a tourism relationship with residents who live there to experience nature based experiences and the authenticity of America,” said Newman. “They can find that here in Indiana.”
Cai, a Chinese-born American citizen, grew up near the Funing area and said the densely populated urban areas make it difficult to find peaceful country spaces. Funing is located north of Shanghai.
One of the projects of Cai’s center is called ‘improving the quality of life of people through rural tourism culture exchange’. In China, every inch of land is used for things to be consumed and Indiana is a much different, Cai said. The first stop on the visit was to a farming community in White County, which is north of Purdue University’s campus in West Lafayette.
“They were so envious of the resources that we have, vast pieces of land, we only grow one crop a year, and we have so much green space,” said Cai.
The vastness of Indiana is something that cannot be replicated in China because so many areas are densely populated. The openness of Indiana could attract tourists from China, Cai added.
“Green space is not only good for looking but also good for health, especially now where people have a hectic schedule and they need to have space,” said Cai. “Coming here for a short visit will give them an opportunity to do that.”
Lucas Lloyd is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.