Tourism in Xin­jiang is bounc­ing back

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CUI JIA cui­jia@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The tourism in­dus­try of the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, which was hit hard in 2014 be­cause the fear of ran­dom ter­ror­ist at­tacks made some peo­ple choose not to the re­gion, has be­gun to re­cover in 2015 as the so­cial sit­u­a­tion be­comes more sta­ble, ac­cord­ing to the re­gional tourism bureau.

The num­ber of tourists vis­it­ing the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion dur­ing the three­day La­bor Day hol­i­day in May has in­creased more than 11 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures from the bureau.

More than 7.2 mil­lion do­mes­tic tourists vis­ited the one of the most popular tourist des­ti­na­tions in China known for its grand nat­u­ral beauty and di­ver­si­fied eth­nic cul­ture dur­ing the first three months of 2015, up more than 9 per­cent year-onyear. The re­gion also at­tracted 256,300 for­eign tourists in the same pe­riod of time.

The re­gion will es­pe­cially work on pro­mot­ing tourism in south­ern Xin­jiang, which was an im­por­tant area link­ing the an­cient Silk Road and has the rich tra­di­tional Uygur cul­ture. Com­pared to other ar­eas, south­ern Xin­jiang has had the most dif­fi­cult time lur­ing tourists in 2014 be­cause most of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks hap­pened there.

Xin­jiang has also started the con­struc­tion of the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt tourist ser­vice cen­ter on April 30. Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pro­posed to es­tab­lish the eco­nomic belt to in­crease eco­nomic com­merce along the an­cient trade route stretch­ing through Cen­tral Asia to Europe.

The cen­ter, which will be put to ser­vice in three years time, will pro­vide tourists with in­for­ma­tion and ser­vices to all at­trac­tions in Xin­jiang and other coun­tries on the eco­nomic belt.

As China’s west­ern-most re­gion, Xin­jiang bor­ders eight coun­tries and the tourism bureau plans to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, such as Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan and Mon­go­lia al­low­ing tourists in Xin­jiang to go aboard eas­ier and ex­tend their trip to coun­tries on the eco­nomic belt.

In an ef­fort to en­cour­age more peo­ple to visit the China-Kaza­khstan in­ter­na­tional bor­der co­op­er­a­tion cen­ter at the bor­der city of Hor­gos, peo­ple can now go into the cen­ter built on both Chi­nese and Kazakh ter­ri­to­ries just with their na­tional ID card, in­stead of hav­ing to ap­ply for a per­mit at the bor­der po­lice bureau in their home­town. The num­ber of vis­i­tors to the cen­ter soared af­ter the new pol­icy was in­tro­duced.

Peo­ple from

China

and Kaza­khstan can en­ter the trans-na­tional free-trade cen­ter, which was of­fi­cially put to use in 2012, with­out a visa. Be­sides shop­ping and trad­ing goods pro­duced in both coun­tries in the cen­ter, many peo­ple also like to take pic­tures at the lines sep­a­rat­ing China and Kaza­khstan.

Although Xin­jiang’s GDP grew by 10 per­cent in 2014, higher than the na­tional av­er­age of 7.4 per­cent, it failed to reach the 11 per­cent growth tar­get. This was mostly be­cause of the slow­down in tourism, ac­cord­ing to the re­gional devel­op­ment and re­form com­mit­tee.

Tourism is also ex­pected to boost em­ploy­ment and bring ex­tra in­come to the lo­cals. The re­gional gov­ern­ment be­lieves em­ploy­ment is key to keep Xin­jiang sta­ble.

So far, Xin­jiang’s 1,177 home inns have pro­vided about 12,000 jobs for lo­cal farm­ers and herds­men. The la­bor­in­ten­sive tourism in­dus­try, which has a low mar­ket en­try thresh­old, is cre­at­ing a large num­ber of jobs for the lo­cals, ac­cord­ing to the re­gional tourism bureau. Mao Wei­hua con­trib­uted to the story.

WANG FEI / XIN­HUA

A Kazakh herds­man walks out of a tra­di­tional yurt and the live­stock graze the Narat grass­land, Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion in Au­gust of 2012.

with glam­orous scener­ies of

pas­tures in the back­ground on

Women splash wa­ter

PHO­TOS BY ERIK NILS­SON / CHINA DAILY

Hasan Wor­man­bek, 76, is among more than 100 no­mads in Sarkuobu vil­lage who con­tinue the eth­nic Kazakh tra­di­tion of hunt­ing with ea­gles in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion’s Ili pre­fec­ture.

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