CHINA> Regional
Xinjiang bombings dampen tourism prospects
Updated: 2008-08-12 13:47

KUQA, Xinjiang -- The tourism industry in Kuqa, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is set to suffer after a string of bomb attacks, said a county official in Kuqa on Tuesday.

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County head Yusufujiang Memet said at a media briefing that the attacks on Sunday could harm the fledgling tourist industry in the mostly Uygur county, which hosted 850,000 visitors from home and abroad last year.

A string of explosions occurred in the early hours of Sunday in supermarkets, hotels and government buildings, killing a security guard and injuring two police, two civilians and another security guard.

Eight attackers were shot dead by police while two others died in suicide bombings. Police arrested two suspected attackers and were searching for three others.

A civilian of the Uygur ethnic group who was injured in the bombings died in hospital on Monday.

"The terrorist attacks will definitely have a negative effect on tourism development in Kuqa. The county government will do its utmost to offset the effect, and improve local tourism facilities, " said Memet.

The county with 89 percent of its 450,000 population ethnic Uygurs saw tourism revenues hit 340 million yuan ($50 million) in 2007, up 28 percent year-on-year.

"Income from the tourism industry accounted for 8 to 9 percent of the county's gross domestic product (GDP) last year, making it almost a pillar industry," said Memet.

The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government selected Kuqa as one of four priority cities for tourism development.

The county, 740 km southwest of Urumqi, the regional capital, is home to Xinjiang's second largest mosque, which can accommodate 5,000 people. It is also famous for the mountain lake of Dalong and two ancient Buddhist grottoes, considered as important as the Dunhuang Grotto in neighboring Gansu Province.