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Plans to make city a transport and tourism hub

By Chen Hong | China Daily | Updated: 2019-07-26 07:51

The tourism and port industries of Zhanjiang, a coastal city in South China's Guangdong province, will benefit from transport upgrades. The city will become one of the 51 rail hubs in China with five highspeed railways, according to local officials.

"We have witnessed the positive influence of the high-speed railway on the local tourism industry. The industry will continue to thrive with an influx of visitors from diversified markets in the near future," said Peng Hui, director of Zhanjiang's bureau for culture, radio and television, tourism and sport.

The city opened the first highspeed rail line linking Zhanjiang with Guangzhou in July last year.

According to the China Tourism Academy, Zhanjiang welcomed more than 6 million visits during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday this year. It was 24.5 percent higher than the same period last year, ranking second in Guangdong after Guangzhou, the province's capital. The city's tourism revenue also rose 19.7 percent from the last festival to more than 2.1 billion yuan ($305.6 million).

In July, global short-term rental accommodation Airbnb listed Zhanjiang as one of the top five Chinese cities that recorded the fastest growth in terms of domestic travelers.

The statistics provided by Ctrip, a domestically leading online travel company and a strategic partner of the bureau, indicate that nearly half of the visitors to Zhanjiang will stay for two to three nights. Car rental, ticket sales for attractions and average expenditure of visitors all rose remarkably between July 2018 and June 2019, when compared to the same period a year before.

"All the figures are very positive and encouraging, which gives us the confidence to expect a more booming tourism market when more high-speed rail lines are ready," said Peng.

Meanwhile, investment in the city's tourism industry is on the ascent too with domestic industrial leaders, including OCT, China Merchants Group and Fantawild, signing agreements for new projects in Zhanjiang, according to Peng.

"We will upgrade and diversify the tourism products, optimize the tour routes and improve marketing and promotion to welcome the high-speed rail tourism era," Peng said.

Li Xiongwei, vice-president of Zhanjiang Port (Group), said the throughputs of the ports are expected to surge and logistics costs can be lowered with more high-speed rail lines.

According to the newly approved rail hub plan, passenger and cargo transport will be separated, expanding the capacity of the railway to take cargo in and out of Southwest China through the port.

As a part of Zhanjiang's ambition to build a national comprehensive transport hub, the port plans to upgrade its deepwater port channel. Beginning in September, it will become capable of holding vessels weighing 400,000 metric tons from the current 300,000 tons.

Upon completion, the port will be the only one in Guangdong and the Beibu Gulf with such a capacity and will cut transport costs by $2 per ton compared to lighter vessels. This will improve the competitiveness of the port, Li added.

(China Daily 07/26/2019 page24)

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