New high-speed railway will boost Yangtze Delta tourism
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.