Wuhan gets tourism plug

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By CHEN JIA in Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia chen­jia@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

In a move to pro­mote bi­lat­eral tourism dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, a del­e­ga­tion of tourism of­fi­cials from Wuhan, the cap­i­tal city of China’s cen­tral prov­ince Hubei, kicked off a US tour in Sil­i­con Val­ley on Wed­nes­day.

“The US has be­come our sec­ond ma­jor source of in­ter­na­tional visi­tors in re­cent years,” Xu Xuqun, the deputy di­rec­tor of Wuhan Tourism Bureau, told China Daily at a travel pro­mo­tion event held in Santa Clara, Cal­i­for­nia, on Wed­nes­day night.

Last year, the num­ber of Amer­i­can trav­el­ers to Wuhan reached 174,000, an an­nual in­crease of 57 per­cent, he said.

The sta­tis­tics in 2013 might be more en­cour­ag­ing in part by a new air route link­ing Wuhan and San Fran­cisco, which has been in op­er­a­tion since April of this year and is part of the city’s ef­fort to be­come China’s fourth-big­gest air trans­port hub — af­ter Bei­jing, Shang­hai, and Guangzhou, he said.

The Wuhan-Shang­hai-San Fran­cisco flights are avail­able three times a week on Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Fri­day.

The out­bound flight takes off from Wuhan Tianhe at 9:30 am, with a stopover at Shang­hai Pudong In­ter­na­tional Air­port, ar­riv­ing in San Fran­cisco at 9:30 am. The re­turn flight de­parts San Fran­cisco at noon and ar­rives in Wuhan at 8 in the evening the next day.

“In or­der to fa­cil­i­tate travel, we have pro­vided a se­ries of spe­cial ser­vices, in­clud­ing free high-speed rail­way trans­fer be­tween Wuhan and another city of Hubei prov­ince — Yichang,” Zhang Shengli, gen­eral man­ager of mar­ket­ing with China East­ern Air­lines in Wuhan, said on Wed­nes­day.

As an im­por­tant trans­porta­tion hub of China, Wuhan is lo­cated in cen­tral China and is a mega city along the mid­dle reaches of the Yangtze River.

Cov­er­ing a land area of 8,494 square kilo­me­ters and with a pop­u­la­tion of around 12 mil­lion, Wuhan’s high-tech in­dus­try, au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try and other busi­nesses oc­cupy a prom­i­nent place in the coun­try’s econ­omy.

Wuhan is one of the na­tion’s six avi­a­tion hubs and four rail­way hubs, and the center of the na­tional high-speed rail­way net­work. It only takes about five hours to get from Wuhan to ma­jor cities such as Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Chongqing and Shen­zhen by high-speed rail.

The city is also the gate­way to the golden in­ter­na­tional tourism route of the Three Gorges, an at­trac­tion for tourists who are fas­ci­nated by the river­side and lake­side land­scapes.

“Tourists can find the home­town of Hua Mu­lan, a Chi­nese hero­ine of an­tiq­uity,” Li Lelin, deputy di­rec­tor of Huangpi Dis­trict Busi­ness and Tourism Bureau of Wuhan, said. “We also have seven gradeAAAA na­tional tourist re­sorts of here.”

With a 3,500-year-old his­tory, Wuhan is also the ori­gin of Chi­nese Chu cul­ture, he added.

“I en­cour­age more US stu­dents to study in Wuhan, where the num­ber of col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties ranks third in China,” Ernest Gar­cia, CEO of Direc­tion21, an in­ter­na­tional busi­ness and aca­demic con­sult­ing com­pany, said at Wed­nes­day’s event.

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