Hubei Is Un­veil­ing Its New Tourism At­trac­tions

In re­cent years, the number of over­seas tourists vis­it­ing Hubei has in­creased by over 40 per­cent and the av­er­age stay­ing time has in­creased by five times. Travel brands have be­come more and more in­flu­en­tial both at home and abroad.

Special Focus - - Spotlight - By Chen Xi, Cheng Furong Trans­la­tion: Yu Lan

Walk­ing down the streets of Wuhan, you can often see for­eign tour groups. Tourists look around cu­ri­ously with smiles on their faces and cam­eras on their shoul­ders.

Nowa­days, more and more for­eign tourists choose to go fur­ther into the heart­land of China and ex­plore the beauty of Jing-chu cul­ture. How­ever, five years ago, they might have never heard of “Hubei.”

What is it that has at­tracted more and more tourists to stay here and en­joy the beauty of Jing- chu cul­ture, mak­ing Hubei more and more fa­mous over the past five years?

Con­vert­ing from tourist ori­gin to tourist des­ti­na­tion, Hubei at­tracts tourists from all over the world

In the past few years, the most pop­u­lar coun­try for the peo­ple of Hubei Prov­ince to travel is Thai­land. How­ever, nowa­days, Hubei at­tracts tourists from this fa­mous tourist des­ti­na­tion.

Since the es­tab­lish­ment of the in­bound tourism

pop­u­lar­iza­tion with Thai­land in 2016, the number of Thai tourists has in­creased tremen­dously and the fig­ure is ex­pected to in­crease by over 50 per­cent this year. Hubei Ji­acheng In­ter­na­tional Travel Agency alone has re­ceived over 3,000 Thai tourists in 2017. “If it weren’t for the lim­ited air­plane seats, there would be more tourists.” Ma Cheng, the deputy gen­eral man­ager of the travel agency said with con­fi­dence.

These cam­paigns don’t only go on in Thai­land— Hubei Prov­ince has also set up in­bound tourism pop­u­lar­iza­tion com­bi­na­tion in Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong, Ma­cao, and Tai­wan. The pro­mo­tion of short- haul in­bound tourism has cov­ered all of South­east Asia. Di­rect round- trip flights be­tween Hubei and Sin­ga­pore and Hubei and Bangkok have achieved 85 per­cent seat oc­cu­pancy. Tourism ac­counts for 90 per­cent.

Hubei is ‘ Go­ing Out’ faster than ever be­fore. Pro­mo­tions get pop­u­lar when­ever they go to a new place. The in­flu­ence and at­trac­tive­ness of Hubei’s tourism is get­ting stronger. It has be­come an im­por­tant name card of Hubei’s im­age. Ac­cord­ing to the as­sess­ments of CVSC-TNS RE­SEARCH, CTV Golden Bridge and Cen­tury Me­dia, Hubei’s tourism brand im­pact has jumped up to the top 5 in China.

Within the last five years, the number of over­seas tourists vis­it­ing Hubei has in­creased by over 40 per­cent. The number of visi­tors from Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land, Malaysia, and Hong Kong has in­creased by over 50 per­cent.

In “go­ing through the city tours,” tourists stay here for as long as 22 days

At 8 a. m., Amer­i­can tourist Tom went to Hankou River­side Park to do Tai Chi (shadow box­ing) with lo­cal res­i­dents. Then, ac­com­pa­nied by his tour guide, he went to Jiangsan Mar­ket at Han­jiang Road to buy food like Wuhan cit­i­zens. Af­ter that, Tom went to Wuhan No. 1 Busi­ness School to learn how to cook Hubei cui­sine from the chef. Then, he took the ferry across the Yangtze River to see the Yel­low Crane Tower and taste au­then­tic Hubei cui­sine.

It’s the one- day sched­ule de­signed by Hubei Datang In­ter­na­tional Travel Agency for an Amer­i­can group they re­ceived this year. More than 500 Amer­i­can tourists in 15 such groups get to ex­pe­ri­ence “lo­cal life” in­stead of just sight­see­ing. “The tourists’ de­mands are dif­fer­ent now. They are not only in­ter­ested in scenic spots, but also ea­ger to know more about lo­cal con­di­tions and cus­toms. Our in- depth travel projects are so ap­peal­ing to over­seas tourists that they would like to spend more time in Hubei.” Yu Xiaoqi from the agency said.

Data shows, over the past five years, the av­er­age time over­seas tourists spent in Hubei has in­creased five- fold. Travel agen­cies in Hubei re­ceive groups that stay from 8 days to 22 days. The number of for­eign visi­tors that stay ex­tra long has in­creased from 200- 300 peo­ple to around 10 thou­sand. Ac­cord­ing to the man­ager of one agency, the most pop­u­lar tour pack­ages are the 8- day and 15- day jour­neys cov­er­ing Wuhan, Yichang, En­shi, Shiyan, and Shen­longjia. Tai­wanese tourists par­tic­u­larly fa­vor the 22- day jour­ney. They call it “trav­el­ing thor­oughly around Hubei.”

Ex­plore new blue ocean of tourism by cross-border in­te­gra­tion

Here come the over­seas study groups from Malaysia and New Zealand. Hubei has be­come a first stop for for­eign teenagers to know more about China.

In such pro­grams, teenagers from New Zealand, for ex­am­ple, will stay in Wuhan for 6 days. The first 3 days they go sight­see­ing, taste lo­cal food, and watch lo­cal shows. The other 3 days they stay in Wuhan Shen­long Pri­mary School’s stu­dents’ homes- eat­ing, liv­ing, and study­ing with them.

Ac­cord­ing to Shi Bo, the man­ager of Hubei Xudong In­ter­na­tional Travel Agency, New Zealand is go­ing to take Hubei Prov­ince as a foothold of Chi­nese cul­ture study tours. More and more over­seas study groups are go­ing to visit Hubei. The mar­ket prospect is promis­ing.

Hav­ing ex­cel­lent nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­men­tal and ed­u­ca­tional advantages, Hubei's study tour pro­gram is now in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized. The “travel+ ed­u­ca­tion+ in­tern­ship” project from Hubei Jiangxin Travel Agency is well re­ceived by cus­tomers in Hong Kong and Ma­cao. Not just study tours, but also cus­tom tours, an­ces­try sac­ri­fice tours, flower tours, vil­lage tours, and so on. Cross­bor­der in­te­gra­tion has up­graded the tourism in­dus­try, at­tracted more tourists, and are build­ing up a blue ocean mar­ket.

Tra­di­tional at­trac­tions are also car­ry­ing on sup­ply- side re­form. The Three Gorges tour that was pop­u­lar over­seas for a time has faced the de­cline of the number of visi­tors while the up­graded Jingchu cul­ture tour has now be­come a great new at­trac­tion.

“Our tourists are mainly from North Amer­ica, Europe, and Aus­tralia. Years of brand­ing makes them fa­mil­iar with The Three Gorges, but tra­di­tional tourism prod­ucts can­not sat­isfy their needs any­more. Nowa­days, we add more cul­tural el­e­ments to our tourism ac­tiv­i­ties. Tourists can watch shows, walk down the lo­cal streets and en­joy the ci­tyscape in Wuhan. They also can touch the an­cient city walls and see the beau­ti­ful land­scape of Han­jiang River Val­ley Plain in Jinzhou. They can have var­i­ous kinds of ex­pe­ri­ence.” Zou Gong­ping, the man­ager of Hubei Hua­jing, said. The up­graded tourism prod­ucts brought them a hand­some in­come. It is es­ti­mated that the number of over­seas tourists they re­ceived is at the top of the list in Hubei Prov­ince. They now ac­com­mo­date 35 thou­sand tourists from 40 coun­tries and re­gions around the world ev­ery year.

外国游客在神农溪参加纤夫节

For­eign tourists are at­tend­ing the Boat- Track­ers Tourism Fes­ti­val held in Shen­nongxi

古德寺 The Gnde Tem­ple摄影 / 石海

Photo by Shi Hai

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