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China eyes Muslim tourists from abroad

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-10 19:32

YINCHUAN - Chinese authorities are planning to attract Muslim tourists from all over the world, seeking new impetus for the country's tourism sector.

At the World Muslim Tour Operators Conference 2013 concluded on Monday, Chinese tour operators signed tourism contracts with counterparts from more than 20 countries and regions with a total value of 3 billion yuan ($490 million).

Initiated this year, the three-day event was organized by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the government of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Ningxia is China's only provincial-level region of Hui, a major Muslim ethnic group in the country.

Zhu Shanzhong, deputy head of CNTA, said tourists from European countries and North America had decreased since the financial slowdown in 2008, and developing a new market has become vital.

Figures show the world population of Muslims exceeds 1.6 billion, forming a Muslim tourism market of more than $600 billion.

With a Muslim population over 20 million, China has rich resources, such as mosques, halal food and Muslim culture, which are all good reasons to attract Muslim tourists from abroad, Zhu said.

The conference will be held every year for Chinese tourism authorities and agencies to have more contacts and cooperation with Muslim tour operators.

Anton Tey, chairman of the Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association, said 60 percent of the Malaysian population are Muslims, and Ningxia will be an important tour destination apart from the current choices of Beijing, Shanghai and Yunnan province.

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