Pittsburgh Welcomes China In a week-long trip that began and ended in Pittsburgh, 300 Chinese tourists visited universities and museums, immersed themselves in U.S. culture and practiced their English.

By Blue Sky Staff

More than 300 Chinese tourists, many visiting the U.S. for the first time, arrived on the first-ever nonstop charter flights between Pittsburgh and Shanghai on China Eastern Airlines and Caissa Touristic on Aug. 3, 2018.

Passengers on the inaugural flight were welcomed with a celebration on the ramp just outside of the international arrivals area at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Airport staff, along with partner agencies VisitPITTSBURGH and Idea Foundry, helped facilitate a seamless arrival and departure experience for the tour group, including direct access to bus transportation to and from the airport, a police escort into downtown, and providing Mandarin-speaking volunteers.

That evening, guests enjoyed a formal dinner, held at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh's North Shore area.

Speakers included Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Airport CEO Christina Cassotis, VisitPITTSBURGH President and CEO Craig Davis, and Idea Foundry President and CEO Michael Matesic.

The next day, groups explored Pittsburgh with stops including a ride on the Duquesne Incline for a city skyline view from Mount Washington, and visiting the International Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Museum of Art, before departing to other cities along the East Coast.

The charter flights made it possible for tourists like 90-year-old Sen Yang (pictured below) to visit family and attend his granddaughter’s wedding. “If it wasn’t for this direct flight, it would not have been possible for him to come,” Yang’s granddaughter said. “We really appreciate this opportunity.”

The flights also reunited Yan Zhang (right), a University of Pittsburgh graduate, with his mother for the first time in three years. And for others, visiting top universities, touring premier art museums, practicing English and being immersed in U.S. culture for a week were the primary reasons to visit.

On August 11, airport staff bid farewell to the tourists with a sendoff that included music, Chinese dancers, cake and a ceremonial water salute for the departing flight, among other festivities.

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