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.”