China's historic Silk Road is poised for a grand reopening.
A broad new tourism effort calls for the historic Silk Road to be open to visitors across a wide swath of the country.
The plan calls for six provinces and regions along the route to be integrated into one economic interest.
The Silk Road is an interconnected series of east-west routes used 2,100 years ago for trading and cultural exchanges.
It totals about 10,000 kilometers in length, according to experts. Some 3,000 kilometers of the road are inside China's territory, running through Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions, before reaching Central Asia, West Asia, and countries around the Mediterranean Sea.
As a result of the new plan, current administrative boundaries will be dissolved and a new management mechanism for the Silk Road tourism area will be formed, a senior official said yesterday.
"In the future, we will promote the area globally as a famous brand of Chinese tourism," said Wu Wenxue, director of the planning & finance department with the China National Tourism Administration, at a news conference in Beijing yesterday.
The plan also could pave the way for future possible tourism cooperation with countries in Central Asia and West Asia.
At present, the six provinces and regions all have their own tourism plans for exploring the resources of the Silk Road.
"The new planning will do good to the tourism development of the whole western part of China, so we will do our part to support the work," said Chen Zhiying, deputy director of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Tourism Bureau.
The plan will include newly designed travel routes and tourism products.
The administration is soliciting opinions in an online forum at silkroad.easyyou.com. The plan is expected to be finished in November.
The Silk Road is likely to be one of the hottest tourist destinations by 2020, Xinhua News Agency quoted a UNESCO official as saying.
UNESCO estimated that a third of the world's tourists would visit the Silk Road.
Forums have been held to allow countries and cities along the route to have a say on how to cooperate. The United Nations World Tourism Organization is also coordinating an effort to boost tourism development along the route. Within Chinese territory, there are several sites listed in UNESCO's World Heritage, including Mogao Grotoes in Dunhuang County of Gansu Province, part of the Great Wall and Longmen Grottoes in Henan Province.
(China Daily 04/05/2007 page3)