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More tourism aid planned to help region create new hub

By Su Zhou in Urumqi Updated: 2015-09-30

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China has pledged to develop the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region as the Silk Road's main tour dispatch hub by 2020 through a national tourism financial aid package.

The aid, initiated by the China National Tourism Administration, includes a 350 million yuan ($56 million) tourism development fund for toilet construction, projects, personnel training and souvenir development, as well as international travel fairs and marketing.

The tourism industry of Xinjiang still faces disadvantages but has great potential, especially the southern part of the region, said Li Jinzao, the director of administration.

"The ancient Silk Road left many cultural heritage sites with great attractiveness to visitors," Li said.

"We should build the southern part of Xinjiang into an ethnic-featured tourism destination on the Silk Road, and this requires us to integrate resources to build outstanding scenic spots and tourism towns."

The vision for Xinjiang first started developing five years ago during a central work conference in Beijing.

Nineteen provinces and cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, decided to provide support for Xinjiang's development.

In the same year, the tourism administration also launched a special fund of 20 million yuan per year to support development of Xinjiang's tourism industry.

The aid helped Xinjiang in the areas of planning, tourism project investment, attracting tourists and training personnel.

Boosted by previous aid, Xinjiang tourism has enjoyed steady growth in the past five years. In 2014, nearly 50 million visits were paid to Xinjiang, an increase of nearly 59 percent from 2010.

In 2015, it expects to receive more than 55 million visits, both from home and abroad.

"More than 200 tourism projects with a more than 5 billion yuan investment in the past five years have significantly improved our tourism infrastructure and industry level," said Li Jidong, Party chief of the region's tourism authority.