New high-speed rail­way will boost Yangtze Delta tourism

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Manav Keel­ing Page Ed­i­tor: chen­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

Anew high-speed rail­way route opened on Tues­day in the Yangtze River Delta re­gion, giv­ing greater ac­cess to Huang­shan Moun­tain in East China’s An­hui Province and other scenic spots.

I’ve been to Huang­shan a few times over the years and can at­test how time-con­sum­ing it used to be to reach the yel­low moun­tains. Even topchi­na­travel.com wrote that “how to get to Huang­shan be­comes a prob­lem to those who are plan­ning to visit.” As I re­call, be­fore di­rect flights opened, you had to take ei­ther a sleeper bus or a 10-hour train along with sev­eral lo­cal shut­tles.

But the new 265-kilo­me­ter high­speed line con­nect­ing Hangzhou in East China’s Zhe­jiang Province and Huang­shan in An­hui will re­duce travel times between Shang­hai and Huang­shan to un­der three hours, ac­cord­ing to xin­huanet.com. Start­ing Jan­uary 5, 33 pairs of trains are sched­uled for the new high-speed rail route.

Along the way, there are seven top level scenic spots, in­clud­ing the West Lake, Xixi Wet­land, Qian­dao Lake, which means you can hop on and off at your leisure en-route to Huang­shan. This is a boon for the Yangtze River Delta re­gion’s boom­ing tourism sec­tor, which in re­cent years has ben­e­fited from in­creased trans­porta­tion routes and up­graded in­fra­struc­ture projects.

Ear­lier this month, China’s Na­tional Devel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion an­nounced that it ap­proved ur­ban rail projects worth 298.35 bil­lion yuan ($43.3 bil­lion) for Shang­hai, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by cgtn.com. More than half of all trips here are made on pub­lic trans­porta­tion, while rail trans­port ac­counts for 60 per­cent of pub­lic tran­sit, said the re­port.

Adding more train routes will help re­lieve Shang­hai’s con­gested roads and air­ways, es­pe­cially dur­ing peak hol­i­day sea­sons such as the up­com­ing Chi­nese lu­nar new year. Aside from the mil­lions of mi­grant work­ers in Shang­hai who will re­turn to their home­towns in the Yangtze River Delta re­gion, an equal num­ber of tourists are ex­pected to visit lo­cal scenic spots, with Huang­shan Moun­tain ar­guably the most pop­u­lar.

To fa­cil­i­tate this de­mand, ear­lier this month the Yangtze River Delta Cul­tural and Tourism In­dus­try Al­liance was es­tab­lished to en­hance the area’s tra­di­tional cul­tural tourism in­dus­try and boost in­vest­ment and devel­op­ment, which will grow it into a world-class tourist des­ti­na­tion.

In 2016, the added value of cul­tural in­dus­tries con­tributed by the Yangtze River Delta area reached 993.49 bil­lion yuan, ac­cord­ing to the Global Times, which ac­counted for 32 per­cent of the to­tal amount of all such in­dus­tries in China. The Yangtze River Delta re­gion also boasts a num­ber of other fields in­clud­ing film pro­duc­tion, en­ter­tain­ment, pub­lish­ing, games, ex­hi­bi­tions and in­ter­na­tional trade. A third of China’s top 30 cul­tural com­pa­nies are based in the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

In­ter­net film, short video, knowl­edge pay­ment, an­i­ma­tion and sports ed­u­ca­tion are ex­pected to be­come the five-most thriv­ing cul­tural sec­tors in the re­gion, the pres­i­dent of the China Cul­ture In­dus­trial In­vest­ment Fund told the Yangtze River Delta Cul­tural and Fi­nan­cial Co­op­er­a­tion Fo­rum ear­lier this month, ac­cord­ing to shine.cn.

With a pop­u­la­tion of about 150 mil­lion (11 per­cent of China’s to­tal), the Yangtze River Delta re­gion has in re­cent years be­come one of China’s pil­lar re­gions; in 2016 it gen­er­ated a GDP of 17.72 trillion yuan, about 20 per­cent of China’s to­tal GDP, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by china-brief­ing.com on June 6. It is now re­spon­si­ble for one-third of China’s im­ports and ex­ports.

The new Yangtze River Eco­nomic Belt pro­ject has the po­ten­tial to help re­duce dis­par­i­ties between China’s boom­ing coastal re­gions and in­te­rior provinces. Ac­cord­ing to china-brief­ing.com, “there are al­ready signs of these dis­par­i­ties be­ing re­duced, as the ra­tio between the provinces with the high­est and low­est GDP per capita fell from 4.3 times in 2012 to 3.6 times in 2016.”

But tourism will al­ways be one of the sta­ple sec­tors of the re­gion due to the Yangtze River Delta’s abun­dance of nat­u­ral beauty. It re­mains to be seen, how­ever, if any of the new eco­nomic projects de­signed to boost the re­gion’s growth, progress and devel­op­ment will in­fringe on that beauty. Hope­fully these lo­cal gov­ern­ments will do their very best to fully pro­tect scenic won­ders such as Huang­shan.

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the au­thor’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

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