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Xia Miao, Shang Yan and Xie Bin, winners of the Tencent Sport and Catalunya Turisme contest

“It was unforgettable, a dream, a fantastic moment,” this is how Xia Miao, Shang Yan and Xie Bin described their trip to Catalonia. These three Chinese Barça fans were given a gift that they'il never forget. They are the three winners of the Tencent, a Chinese technology firm, and Catalunya Turisme contest. The contest was done in collaboration with FC Barcelona, Turkish Airlines and Nike. Barça did its part to promote Catalonia in Asia as the Club put itself at Catalonia’s service to show not only Barcelona but the Costa Brava, Figueres, Girona and, of course, Sant Jordi to the contest winners.

This Monday, after enjoying the Day of Sant Jordi in the city, the three contest winners were given a private tour of FC Barcelona’s facilities. Dídac Lee, FC Barcelona director of New Technologies, showed Miao, Yan and Bin the Club’s offices and the Barça Museum.

“I want to come again”

On the visit, Yan, who is a member of the board of directors of the Great Wall Barça Supporters Club in Beijing, presented Dídac Lee with presents for Éric Abidal from the Chinese Supporters Club. In fact, Yan has been working relentlessly to gather as many Culés as possible in the Asian country.

“I thought I would never be able to realize a dream like this!” said Bin, manager of a car sales company in the Chinese province of Liao Ning. Bin has been a faithful Barça supporter for more than 10 years; he also boasts an extraordinary collection of Barça jerseys. “It’s not sufficient to be in Barcelona with Barça just once. I want to come again,” said Miao, specialist in digital marketing.

Catalunya Turisme didn’t bring the three Chinese Barça supporters to Catalonia just to watch the Clásico and enjoy the Museum. The three contest winners started their tour of Catalonia in Girona. Lee, who is of Chinese origin himself, received the contest winners in Figueres, his home town, and took them on a tour of the Dalí Theatre Museum. Lee places high value on these types of initiative, and is pleased that the Club is able to promote Catalonia as a tourist destination and introduce Catalan culture to Chinese society: “I’m very pleased with this contest along with Tencent Sport and the Catalan government because it allowed us to be closer to our Chinese friends and fans, and because we were able to show off Catalonia. Without a doubt, this is the first of many initiatives that we’ll be involved in.”

Catalonia’s emblematic destinations

Besides Figueres, the Chinese fans also visited Girona, Montserrat and other famous tourist attractions in Barcelona like Parc Güell, la Rambla and Montjüic. Miao, Yan and Bin were also able to enjoy the Day of Sant Jordi, one of Catalonia’s most esteemed traditions, and the cavas of Penedès.

Barça-Catalonia

“The trip was a success, with Barça’s direct implication,” said Antonio Lin, director of the Tourist Promotion Center and Catalan Tourist Agency in Beijing. “We managed to find a new way to combine culture and sport with Barça and Catalonia.” Catalunya Turisme reported that over 80,000 Chinese tourists come to Catalonia each year: “it’s an important number that keeps on growing, we’re promoting holiday packages that include Catalonia and Barça in the same itinerary.”

On Saturday, Miao, Yan and Bin didn’t sleep too well. Even though the Clásico went to Real Madrid, and after years of staying up late to watch the Club on television, what kept the three contest winners awake was the image of 90,000 people working together to make this weekend’s mosaic. The three Chinese fans had also joined their voices to the a cappella rendition of the Barça hymn at the start of the Clásico.

China, an Azulgrana country

The contest, which was run on the Chinese social network Tencent Weibo, was extremely successful in the Asian country. After a long selection process, three finalists, who were chosen from the 11,194 contestants, started their journey to Catalonia. The contest website had over seven million visitors throughout the life of the contest.

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