How did you find yourself in the tourism industry? I worked at the Beijing Review, an English magazine with overseas distribution, from the mid-1960s until the late 1970s. I was a typist, a proof-reader and then a translator ... I also drove a tractor in Henan and Hebei . In the late 1970s, China decided to focus on the tourism industry, and I was sent to CNTA (China National Tourism Association) as a foreign affairs cadre. Nobody has been in the tourism industry as long as I have. What were the early days of tourism like? Before 1978, tourism was based on 'friendship travel', restricted to tourists from Albania, Romania and the [former] USSR. The Chinese were very friendly to tourists in the early 1980s. I would bring tourists to neighbourhood committees and factories, and they would spend lots of time preparing for the foreigners' arrival. There was a lot of attention to creating warm feelings. People hadn't started to worry about money yet ... The Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened the [Diaoyutai] State Guesthouse and I worked there for five years. Did you meet a lot of important visitors? I met lots of famous people and a lot of important business people and politicians. The president of Coca-Cola gave us a truckload of Coke. A cigarette company gave me 10 crates of cigarettes. How did your Canadian connection begin? In 1989, I was invited by Tour East to work in Toronto as a sales representative, developing Yangtze River cruises. We chartered two boats, and that year we more than doubled the amount of cruise [guests]. In 1996, Tour East asked me to be their China representative. Nobody considered changing jobs then, and my colleagues tried to convince me to stay. It was a tough decision ... we Chinese are used to stability - I had a decent salary ... My wife cursed my decision, but was then supportive. It wasn't an economic ... as much as an entrepreneurial decision. How were your early years in the private sector? At first, CITS [China International Travel Service] set up obstacles, trying to make it difficult for me. They would tell local offices not to grant my tours permission, but, of course, the offices were concerned with business, so they didn't pay attention to headquarters. Later, CITS became co-operative. What do you think of the travel industry today? China only set up guiding principles of the tourism industry 10 years ago, and there is still room for improvement. The government needs to provide more support and guidance. I still miss the early days of travel, when people were warmer and there wasn't so much focus on the economy.