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  • Region has plan to get visitors back
    2015-03-23    source:Chinadaily    author:

    Terrorism drives foreigners away but upgrading and Silk Road plan bring new hope to Xinjiang

    China's northwest Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is revitalizing its tourism industry after experiencing its first drop in visitor numbers and income in 20 years.

    Tourism brought 65 billion yuan ($10.5 billion) to Xinjiang last year, a 3.4 percent decrease year-on-year. Nearly 50 million tourists traveled in Xinjiang, which was 4.8 percent less than last year.

    The income from foreign visitors dropped by 15 percent compared with the previous year, said Yinam Naserdin, director of the regional tourism bureau. This year, the region aims to earn more than 70 billion yuan from tourism.

    The bureau has issued advice for promoting the winter and spring market. One idea, a subsidy for the cost of traveling by railway, would provide travel cards for inbound tourist groups, whose tour route must cover at least two Five-A scenic spots, the highest level for Chinese scenic spots.

    The initial subsidy was set at 200 yuan per person, totaling 2 million yuan for 10,000 tourists. A similar subsidy program was carried out early last year, costing 30 million yuan.

    This year, the program was sent to prefectural tourism departments, travel agencies, tourism companies and hotels across the region for consultation. It will be in effect from March 24 to April 30, before the peak season starts.

    Terrorist attacks in the region last year harmed economic growth. Although Xinjiang's GDP grew by 10 percent last year, higher than the national average of 7.4 percent, it failed to reach its 11 percent growth target.

    This was mostly because of the slowdown in tourism, according to a report released by the regional development and reform commission on the sidelines of the annual session of the 12th Xinjiang Regional People's Congress in January.

    This year has been designated as the promotion year for Silk Road tourism by the National Tourism Administration. Xinjiang, the key tourist spot along the Silk Road, will use the year to revitalize the market.

    The region has made great efforts in promoting its winter tourism. Meanwhile, it has encouraged more scenic spots to upgrade to Five-A standard. Currently, Xinjiang has eight Five-A scenic spots, including the newly listed Bosten Lake, and 16 others have applied for upgrading.