Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town of Lijiang attracts many domestic and foreign tourists. Photos Provided to China Daily
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, with an elevation of 5,596 meters, is renowned for its loftiness, magnificence and mysteriousness.
Lijiang, a popular destination in Yunnan province, plans to provide more travel services, facilities and other products to attract more visitors, especially foreigners, local tourism officials said.
Lijiang aims to increase its number of tourists from 11.8 million in 2011 to 16 million by 2015, 10 percent of whom are expected to come from foreign countries, according to a local report on tourism development during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015).
Most foreign visitors come from Japan, Korea, the United States and European countries. Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan visitors also account for a large part.
In order to maintain a constant increase in the number of foreign visitors, the city government will expand the market by doing more promotional work in countries in South Asia, Africa and North America.
"The tourism industry plays an important role in boosting the whole economy," said Wang Junzheng, Party secretary of Lijiang. "The service sector contributed 32.8 percent of local economic growth in 2011."
"Lijiang's tourism income reached 15.2 billion yuan ($2.39 billion) in 2011, accounting for the main portion of local revenue. By the end of 2015, it will grow to 25.7 billion yuan. Thus, its stimulating effect on economic growth will be seen," Wang said.
The city is considered a natural wonderland blessed with fresh air, clear rivers, breathtaking snow mountains and an undisturbed landscape inhabited by a friendly ethnic group. These features are expected to bring about an annual increase in visitors of 12 percent in the next three years.
The Old Town of Lijiang, a well preserved ancient town with a history going back more than 800 years, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 for its dramatic landscape that demonstrates different cultural traditions.
Its architecture is noteworthy for its blend of different cultural elements from a variety of eras in antiquity, and its ancient water supply system still functions effectively today.
For tourists seeking an exotic experience, a visit to the Mosuo ethnic group beside Lugu Lake is a must.
They are called the last "Kingdom of Women" on earth. People here do not have traditional marriages, and property is passed down through women.
Tourists with a love of superlative natural scenery can take a trip to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which provides a majestic backdrop to the Moon-Embracing Pavilion at Black Dragon Pond.
With a forward-looking view of the vital role of tourism in the city, the local government has set up new development programs to fully utilize these rich tourism resources to make the area a world-famous tourist resort.
They will optimize the tourism infrastructure over the course of the next few years. Travelers will be able to enjoy more services and products, such as relaxing in a clean environment, playing golf or participating in large meetings in the city's newly built convention centers.
"We have decided to implement a series of measures to boost local tourism," said He Lianghui, mayor of Lijiang.
Infrastructure programs aiming to further develop the current sites will begin operations, providing sound service for tourists.
Additionally, transportation infrastructure construction is under way, including airports at Lugu Lake and Lijiang Airport.
Authorities are planning more railways to connect major inland cities with this tourism city.
In cities that have direct flights to Lijiang, more promotional programs will be started. Closer cooperation with travel agencies there will provide updated information and favorable policies for travelers from these places.
"The well-preserved environment is the guarantee of local tourism and the root of development," said Wang. "Though many construction programs will begin soon, we must pay more attention to environmental protection."
(China Daily 06/01/2012 page7)