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Popular TV show turns Altay into trendy destination

By CHENG SI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-18 07:28
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The TV show To the Wonder has dramatically propelled tourists' interest in Altay in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. CHINA DAILY

China's new hit TV show To the Wonder has made Altay in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region a new trendy tourism destination among young people, who are attracted by the breathtaking views and the simple and heartwarming lives of the local residents.

Adapted from My Altay, a collection of prose by Li Juan, the drama tells the story of Li Wenxiu, a young woman who returned to her hometown of Altay to live with her mother after failing in her dream of becoming a writer and having setbacks at work. She then found the meaning of life and her love in Altay.

The grassland views and free and easy lives showcased in the teleplay soon made Altay one of the top-tier tourism destinations among young people.

"It's like a place that's out of this world. I can't imagine how happy I would be to wake up every morning seeing such beautiful views. My husband and I are planning a trip to Xinjiang this summer and Altay will definitely be included in our itinerary," said Zhang Chen, a 31-year-old from Beijing.

The travel portal Qunar said that from May 7 — the day the TV show began its commercial airing, flight ticket bookings to Altay rose 20 percent compared with the same period in the previous month, and hotel bookings doubled during the period on its platform.

Homestay operating and booking platform Tujia said that bookings for homestays in Altay had surged by 200 percent from May 9 to Wednesday, compared with the same period in April.

"The best travel season to Altay is usually from August to October, but its peak season will arrive earlier this year, around June, thanks to the impact of this trendy show," said Huang Minghu, travel portal Tuniu's director for tour products in Xinjiang.

He said that Altay enjoys great advantages in developing tourism, including its breathtaking grassland and lake views, and original and well-preserved villages. The place is also a popular skiing destination in winter.

"TV shows and short videos can perfectly show the beautiful views of the shooting location. Xinjiang will enter its tourism peak season and more young people will be attracted to the region thanks to this hit show," he said.

Wei Changren, founder of, a tourism-related financial news portal, said that Altay has not become famous overnight, but has long been a destination well-known for its natural beauty. However, it hasn't been very popular because of long travel times and higher costs of accommodation.

"It's not that convenient to reach the place, as many big cities don't have direct flights to Altay. Travelers may have to take buses or cars for hours after their flight," he said.

Though Altay still lacks the capability to receive large numbers of travelers, Wei believes that the development of its tourism sector enjoys great prospects.

"Altay has different charms in summer and winter, and these distinct seasonal views are attractive to travelers. From my perspective, authorities in Altay can take the hit show as an opportunity and continue developing good tourism and cultural resources to attract travelers. The local tourism infrastructure can also be improved to enhance visitors' experiences," he added.

It's not the first time in recent years that a hit show has helped turn its location into a popular tourism destination. In January 2023, the TV drama Meet Yourself, starring Liu Yifei and Li Xian, made Dali in the southwestern province of Yunnan a trendy tourism destination.

Xiao Peng, a researcher from travel portal Qunar, said that it's common to see a TV drama boosting its location's potential as a tourist destination in recent years. Citing To the Wonder as an example, he said that the local authorities or tourism companies can optimize tour products combining natural views and cultural elements in Altay to improve people's travel experiences.

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