Anhui has welcomed more than 1.8 million overseas tourists to the province in the previous 11 months this year, up 21.6 percent compared with the same period in the previous year.
Among them 676,000 were from Asia, up 12.6 percent on the previous year; while 415,000 were from Taiwan, a 30.7 percent increase. A great surge was seen in the number of tourists from Taiwan who traveled to the north of Anhui via Hefei, the capital city of the province.
The tourism industry has brought an estimated $620 million in foreign exchanges over the period, 28.9 percent higher than the same period last year.
The expansion of the province’s air transport infrastructure has greatly boosted tourism in the area. The provincial government has invested more than 67 million yuan ($10 million) to help Hefei, Huangshan, Anqing and Fuyang airports develop tourism flights.
The province now has six international airlines operating 12 flights every week, covering Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Direct flights from Hefei to Singapore and Macau have been opened, and the number of flights heading for Seoul and Taipei has also increased.
Along with international connections, the number of airlines connecting the province with other parts of China is increasing fast. The passenger handling capacity of Hefei airport has grown 18.8 percent, while the numbers for Huangshan and Anqing airports were up 19.5 percent and 153.1 percent respectively. Passenger handling capacity of Fuyang airport has also increased 5.4 times.
Innovative marketing strategies are also attracting overseas tourists.
During the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, Anhui organized a series of themed events to promote its tourism, some of which were held abroad.
Thanks to the Expo, more than 6 million Chinese tourists were attracted to Anhui, along with another 220,000 overseas travelers. Organizers developed a number of tour routes in coordination with several Yangtze River Delta cities including Shanghai and Hangzhou.
By taking part in international tourism fairs and establishing partnerships with overseas travel agencies, the province is making great efforts to forge global links. It has invited delegations from Japan, Korea and other major tourist sources on many occasions as a way of fostering ties.
The province also cooperates closely with the media to promote its image as an excellent tourism destination.
By Zhang Zhao and Natalie Thomas (China Daily)