China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WEEKEND LIFE - By XING WEN xing­wen@chi­

The city of Ji­uquan in Gansu prov­ince is look­ing to pro­mote re­gional tourism by lev­er­ag­ing cul­tural and travel re­sources in and around Dun­huang.

The city of Ji­uquan in North­west China’s Gansu prov­ince is look­ing to pro­mote re­gional tourism by lev­er­ag­ing cul­tural and travel re­sources in and around Dun­huang.

A re­cent fo­rum held by the gov­ern­ment of Ji­uquan, Gansu Tourism De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion and Dun­huang Re­search Academy dis­cussed fu­ture plans to de­velop the Dun­huang tourism cir­cle and its en­vi­rons, which in­clude the Kazakh au­tonomous county of Ak­say in the south­west, the Mon­go­lian au­tonomous county of Subei in the south­east and Guazhou county north­east of Dun­huang.

Sit­u­ated at the trans­porta­tion hub of the an­cient Silk Road, Dun­huang is rich in his­toric sites and cul­tural relics such as the Mo­gao Grot­toes, the Yu­men­guan Pass and Xuan­quan Spring relics. It is also home to the Silk Road In­ter­na­tional Cul­tural Expo. All of th­ese things have drawn global at­ten­tion and helped Dun­huang and Ji­uquan be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar among do­mes­tic and over­seas trav­el­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal tourism bu­reau, Ji­uquan has at­tracted over 25 mil­lion tourists, earn­ing around 25 bil­lion yuan ($3.6 bil­lion) from its tourism in­dus­try in the first nine months of this year.

To fur­ther en­hance the ap­peal of the Dun­huang tourism cir­cle and Ji­uquan, the cul­ture of the an­cient Silk Road and the art of the grot­toes should play a piv­otal role, noted Li Ping, a re­searcher from Dun­huang Re­search Academy dur­ing the fo­rum. It’s fea­si­ble to launch in-depth tour routes fea­tur­ing study of the re­gion’s his­tory and cul­ture, she con­tin­ued.

She also stressed, how­ever, that there should be as­sur­ances in place that th­ese world cul­tural her­itage sites won’t be cor­rupted by com­mer­cial prac­tices. A sci­en­tific strat­egy should be pro­vided to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, man­age scenic spots and form a sus­tain­able tourism in­dus­try which could ben­e­fit other sec­tors in the re­gion.

“To boost tourism isn’t equal to merely at­tract­ing more vis­i­tors,” Li ob­served. “How long they will stay here mat­ters, as does their pur­chas­ing power and so­cial in­flu­ence.

“In this sense, it’s nec­es­sary to cre­ate a stan­dard­ized value-as­sess­ment sys­tem for the in­dus­try.”

He Xiaozu, vice-mayor of Ji­uquan, added that the Ji­uquan Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter could also serve as a driv­ing force for the de­vel­op­ment of lo­cal tourism.

This year, Ji­uquan is plan­ning to build an aero­space-themed zone in Suzhou district, where vis­i­tors can ex­pe­ri­ence a weight­less en­vi­ron­ment, car rac­ing and a vir­tual-re­al­ity space bat­tle, as well as visit the launch­ing tower of China’s Shen­zhou se­ries of space­crafts.

The vice-mayor also said that the city can ben­e­fit from its dra­matic land­scapes.

“Ji­uquan is abun­dant in snow­capped moun­tains, forests, grass­land, deserts, oases, rivers and canyons,” vice-mayor He con­tin­ued. “We should or­ga­nize out­door ac­tiv­i­ties like hik­ing, run­ning, climb­ing and paraglid­ing — based on those nat­u­ral set­tings — to en­ter­tain tourists and meet their var­ied de­mands.”

It is worth not­ing that, dur­ing the off­sea­son, Ming Sha Shan (Echo­ingSand Moun­tain) and Yue Ya Quan (Cres­cent Spring), Yadan Na­tional Ge­o­log­i­cal Park, the Yang­guan Pass and other scenic spots in Ji­uquan waive ad­mis­sion charges for res­i­dents of Gansu prov­ince, while tourists from out­side the area pay only half price.

Peo­ple can also get en­try into four of the caves at Mo­gao Grot­toes that are closed dur­ing sum­mer.

Sep­a­rately, Shi Pei­hua, an of­fi­cial with a China travel think tank, em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of us­ing a wider vi­sion in the process of pro­mot­ing Dun­huang tourism cir­cle.

“Dun­huang used to be the place where dif­fer­ent cul­tures in­te­grated with each other, which could in­spire peo­ple to not only use lo­cal tourism re­sources but also that of all the coun­tries in­volved in the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive,” Shi sug­gested, adding: “For in­stance, let’s treat the vis­i­tors to the de­li­cious food of Dun­huang and from th­ese other coun­tries, al­low­ing them to ex­pe­ri­ence the var­i­ous cul­tures along the an­cient Silk Road.”

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