China / Society

Xinjiang offers cash to revive slumping tourism industry

By Gao Bo in Urumqi (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-29 03:02
Xinjiang offers cash to revive slumping tourism industry

Tourists take photos at the entrance of the Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi on Wednesday. LI XIONGXIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region plans to offer a 500 yuan ($80) subsidy to each tourist coming to the region in a bid to revitalize a tourism industry recently wracked by terror attacks.

"The subsidies, which total 20 million yuan, have been given to tourists from 19 provinces and regions," said Inam Naiserdin, director of the Xinjiang Tourism Bureau.

Tourism to the region has suffered since a March 1 attack at a railway station in Kunming, Yunnan province, conducted according to local authorities by Xinjiang separatists, as well as a stabbing spree and explosion on April 30 at a railway station in the regional capital of Urumqi, Inam Naiserdin said.

"Last winter we welcomed many tourists who came to ski or skate," he said. "But since March, inbound tourists have dropped by about 40 percent compared with the same period last year."

The region saw an encouraging number of visitors in the first quarter of the year despite the traditionally down season for tourism, said Ma Rui, deputy director of the Xinjiang Tourism Bureau.

During the quarter, Xinjiang had roughly 6.83 million tourists, including 240,000 overseas visitors, representing a nearly 10-percent hike from the previous year, data from the bureau showed.

Since March, however, the industry has suffered.

Chen Jianjun, who heads a recreational driving club, has noticed a drop in tourists over the past two months.

"During this period last year, I organized a group with 40 off-road vehicles. This month, I only had a team of 20 vehicles," the 43-year-old said.

In addition to the 500-yuan subsidy for each tourist, the region, as a key site along the Silk Road, has begun to tap into its Silk Road heritage to generate more tourism resources.

Since the beginning of the year, the region has been working toward listing Kazakhstan and seven other neighboring countries as tour destinations.

"We hope to offer international itineraries for inland tourists when they come to Xinjiang," Inam Naiserdin said.

About 1,000 tour guides from more than 100 travel agencies in Xinjiang have joined with tourism agencies in inland provinces to promote the region.

"The management of scenic spots and hotels in the region is sound," Inam Naiserdin said. "We welcome all tourists to Xinjiang to see for themselves that travel here is safe."

The government is also encouraging Xinjiang natives to tour their home province.

"This will not only promote tourism in the slow season, but also improve the level of service in the industry," Ma said.


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