Yunnan province will be a major tourism destination and double the number of visitors within six years by showcasing its ethnic cultures and providing more tours.
"We want to build Yunnan into a world famous holiday destination," says Yu Dingcheng, director of Yunnan provincial tourism bureau. Kunming plays the host to 2009 China International Tourism Mart, starting today.
To do that, the provincial government has come up with the slogan "redevelop the tourism industry of Yunnan".
"This slogan is based on the fact that Yunnan's tourism industry has gone through a primary stage of development and has established a basic tourism system," says Yu, adding it must adapt to rapid changes and stiff competition.
Last year there were 100 million visitors, and 2.5 million from overseas. By 2015, this is expected to be 200 million, with 5.5 million from overseas.
Gross tourism income last year was 66 billion yuan ($9.7 billion), which means the average spending of a tourist in Yunnan was a little more than 600 yuan.
Located in the south westernmost part of China and neighboring three countries, Yunnan is scenic, has much flora and fauna and is rich in ethnic cultures.
Yu says Yunnan needs to focus more on leisure and holiday tourism products, rather than traditional sightseeing activities to increase revenues.
"We are going to develop more incentive tours, conferences, sports tours, expeditions, and scientific tours," he says. "As the economy develops, people's spending on tourism will also increase."
This is the "year of online marketing of Yunnan tourism". The provincial tourism bureau is building a website where people can click on different destinations in Yunnan to watch videos about them and is cooperating with popular websites to promote tourism.
Its ethnic cultures are a big draw. There are 25 minority groups in Yunnan - the most in China, each with its distinct features.
"Utilizing the rich ethnic cultures of Yunnan will help us develop some attractive products and upgrade Yunnan's tourism as a whole," says Yu.
Performances are playing an important role in attracting tourists, like the music and dance show Dynamic Yunnan in Kunming, and the concert of ancient Naxi music in Lijiang. The province will also build some theme parks and make films and TV plays about its diverse ethnic cultures.
According to the Outline of Development and Reforming of the Tourism Industry of Yunnan Province (2008-15), by 2015, the percentage of tourism in Yunnan's GDP is expected to increase from 6.8 percent in 2007 to 10.8 percent, and the percentage of those involved in tourism among the province's total employed persons will rise from 7 percent to 10 percent.