By LOIS KINDLE
Ever wondered what it would be like to visit China’s Forbidden City or walk along a stretch of its 4,000-mile Great Wall? How about Tiananmen Square, its Summer Palace, Terracotta Warriors or the Yu Garden?
These sights and more are part of a special nine-day trip March 23 to Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai arranged as a special fundraiser for the Greater Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I learned about this at a FACP (Florida Association of Chamber Professionals) gathering,” said Dana Schroeder, Sun City Center Area Chamber CEO. “I felt this would be a great way to combine an exciting adventure trip with fundraising for the chamber.”
Tour operator Citslinc International is offering the trip to China for an all-inclusive price of $2,399, including direct, roundtrip airfare from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Chinese domestic airfare; double-occupancy, four- and five-star hotel accommodations; three daily meals; deluxe bus tours; tour guides who speak fluent English; and entrance fees for attractions.
Single rooms are available for an additional $500. All tax and post-departure travel insurance are included, and a nonrefundable deposit, valid passport and Chinese travel visa are required. Travelers can acquire the documents on their own or have Citslinc International do it for $155.
The pricing is made possible through an affinity program, a business partnership between Citslinc and the chamber that offers special travel rates to increase revenues for both parties. By encouraging high participation in this China trip, the Sun City Center Area Chamber stands to yield some significant funding.
“We have the opportunity to makes thousands and thousands of dollars, which are sorely needed for us to continue upgrading our facilities to benefit our members and the public,” Schroeder said. “This building is used by so many (including businesses, churches, civic groups, nonprofit organizations and area residents).
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to go and so glad to be able to offer the same trip to others at a price most can afford,” she continued. “We already have eight people signed up.”
The chamber’s group will have its own touring buses once they get to Beijing, the destination city for the flight, she said.
The itinerary includes visits to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Palace Museum (aka Forbidden City), Summer Palace, Great Wall and Ming Tombs; the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Ancient City Wall, Hanging Spa Garden, Banpo Museum and Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an; and the Yu Garden, Bund and Pudong Economic Development Zone in Shanghai.
Apollo Beach resident Archie McKee lived in China for two years and has made 10 additional month-long trips since.
He finds the evolution of China’s economy since the 1970s and the country itself fascinating.
“It’s absolutely mind-boggling the progress China has made,” he said. “Its economic progress is impossible to comprehend unless you go.”
According to McKee, there’s no place like it.
“The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes…everything you experience there is different than what we’re accustomed to here.”
The Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce will host an informational meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 18 in its banquet room at 1651 Sun City Center Plaza. If you’re thinking of going, it’s a great way to learn more about the trip and ask questions.
As with any international tour package, practicing due diligence through your own research is highly encouraged.
To sign up, email Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 813-634-5111.