Highland Park chamber invites community on trip to China
Ginny Glasner, executive director of the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce, climbs the Great Wall of China last year with her husband, David. | Photo courtesy Ginny Glasner
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:15AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Officials at the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce are betting that those who participate in the chamber’s first-ever travel initiative will exclaim “xie xie.”
The chamber has partnered with Citslinc International to offer a China tour that will include visits to the 4,000-mile-long, 2,000-year-old Great Wall and numerous points of interest in and around Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou. The trip is scheduled for Oct. 16-24, and is open to anyone, regardless of whether they are chamber members or Highland Park residents.
The cost is $2,599 per person, based on double occupancy. The trip will be limited to about 30 people. If more are interested, another tour may be arranged.
Citslinc works with 800 chambers of commerce in the United States and Canada.
“We’ve been doing the chamber tour since 1999,” said Peter Liu, a Citslinc representative who, along with Chamber executive director Ginny Glasner, addressed a small crowd of potential travelers at a meeting Feb. 26 at the Highland Park Public Library.
Pronounced shay-shay, “xie xie” means thank you and was among a few Chinese phrases shared at the meeting.
Glasner said it’s no accident that the chamber’s first travel program destination is China.
“To see what an economic engine China has become is eye-opening,” said Glasner, who previewed the tour last fall, and said the experience was exceptional.
“In a very short time, at an incredible price, the trip allows you to be exposed to life in China — seeing the historic sites, and also the modernization that so many Americans have limited exposure to witness,” she said.
Among those who attended the Feb. 26 meeting were Brian L’Heureux of Lash L’Heureux Coterie and his partner, Ryan Newberry L’Heureux. Brian L’Heureux said they likely will book the trip.
“China is not one of the places I’d put at the top of my list for travel — with the language barrier and it being such a distance,” he said. “But with the chamber doing this group thing … with them arranging it, its’ all taken care of. Not only that, but it’s at a price point that you could not beat. You could not do that on your own.”
Included in the trip is international airfare from O’Hare Airport non-stop to Beijing, transportation from Beijing Airport, airport taxes, four- and five-star hotel stays, three full meals a day, fluent English-speaking tour guides, opportunities for shopping and more.
“The value of this trip is more than the price,” Glasner said. “You get to see the little things, like where they shop, how they pick up their children from school on Vespa-like motorcycles, and the sheer amount of construction ongoing in China. It’s mind-boggling.”
Those interested in developing business connections in China will have that opportunity as well, said Glasner and Highland Park Chamber president Sue Monhait.
Monhait, who owns The Ribbon Print Co. and buys from China some printing machinery that is not manufactured in the United States, said she visited the country shortly after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
“I’m really interested to see how it’s changed,” she said.
Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Ming Tombs are just a sampling of the sites participants will see on this fast-paced tour. A visit to the centuries-old Lingyin Temple, one of the most famous Buddhist temples in China, also is on the itinerary, as well as gorgeous gardens and more.
Glasner said she was fascinated during stops at jade, pearl, silk and cloisonné factories.
“They are very proud of their handicrafts and have every right to promote them,” she said. “You begin to have an understanding and appreciation for the art and craftsmanship and the different levels of quality.”
Those interested are encouraged to visit the chamber website, www.chamberhp.com, for more information. The chamber also has planned a second information meeting at 5:30 p.m. March 14 at the Highland Park library, 494 Laurel Ave.
Passports and visas are required, and are not included in the tour price. A $500 non-refundable deposit is required for those wishing to hold a spot. The balance will be due by June 10.