BEIJING, China (KHNL) -- We continue our series of reports looking forward to the summer Olympic games in Beijing, China.
Although its millions of people don't enjoy the many freedoms we have come to take for granted, the once isolated nation is opening its arms in hopes of welcoming the world.
And more and more people are accepting the invitation, as I discovered on a recent journey to the age old city.
Once defined by its closed borders and communist ways, China is enjoying a renaissance like few the world has witnessed.
Last year alone, more than four million people visited Beijing. And with the summer games now less than 100 days away, the record number of visitor arrivals continues to soar.
"People before never travel to China," said Beijing tour operator Chen Lei. "They go the United States, they go to England or Egypt or India or Thailand. But people always want to go to someplace new place and now China is the new destination."
Once in Beijing, visitors will be greeted by marvels of architecture, both old and new.
In fact, one of the first sights many will see is something affectionately known as "T-3".
The new international terminal at Beijing's capital airport, a spectacular dragon-like structure that runs more than two miles in length.
"In order to welcome all the visitors of the world in 2008, we're now expanding our airport with a new extension to handle the traffic so in one year, we'll have more than 60 million people," said Michelle Chen, a Beijing businesswoman.
And one look at the Beijing skyline tells you, the future of this age old city, is now.
Of course, one of the biggest draws in this historic city, is its shopping. With more than 13,000 retails stores dotting ten famous shopping districts, Beijing is a bargain hunters paradise.
"It's a unique experience. Let me tell you this, you have to be strong willed to get through he isles or be able to get what you want," said Rose-Mary Collins, an American tourist. "Everybody's really nice, they are an aggressive, assertive kind of nice."
But with everything China has to offer, one of it's most valuable exports, is it's people.
It has become one of the world's hottest outbound tourist markets. And according to the World Tourism Organization, China is projected to become the #1 supplier of outbound tourists by the year 20-20 with more than 100 million travelers packing their bags each year.
And many of them are already thinking ... Hawaii.
"I like Hawaii, alot of beaches and scenic situations," said Rick Hui, a hotel operator. "And I'm sure the Chinese will really want to go to Hawaii.
But while many Chinese may want to come to Hawaii, it's not easy for them to get here.