Chengdu sweetens deal in visa-free visits

Updated: 2014-03-13 08:29

By Hao Nan (China Daily)

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The government of Chengdu recently released a series of incentives to attract more foreign transit tourists to use its 72-hour visa-free policy.

Visitors entitled to the policy can enjoy discounts at hotels and airport shopping areas as well as dedicated transit lounges and free transportation between airport terminals.

Buses are provided to commute from the airport to the most popular scenic spots such as Kuanzhai Alley, Jinli Ancient Street, Jinsha Site Museum and Temple of the Marquis of Wu.

The capital of southwest China's Sichuan province is the fourth city in China to offer foreign tourists a three-day visa-free stay following Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

The policy went into effect on Sept 1 last year. It permits citizens from 51 countries including the United States, Australia, Canada and Japan who have valid visas and flight tickets to a third country to spend three days in the city.

The 72-hour visa waiver also made Chengdu the first city in the western region of China to adopt the policy.

Li Zhiyong, deputy dean of the tourist institute at Sichuan University, said the move would contribute to a large increase in the number of overseas tourists and also stimulate the city's economic growth.

Last year, Chengdu reported a robust growth in its tourist industry.

Official statistics show that it received some 150 million tourists last year, an increase of 28 percent from 2012. Around 1.7 million came from abroad, an increase of 12 percent. Total revenue from tourism surpassed 133 billion yuan ($21.7 billion).

Chengdu ranks the third in tourist facilities, management and services among 60 Chinese cities, according to a customer satisfaction survey released last year.

Famed for its history, culture, climate and cuisine, it is recognized by the National Tourism Administration as one of the nation's best destinations.

It also has the fifth observation site in China established by the United Nations World Tourism Organization to promote sustainable tourism.

The site gathers and reports data to measure the environmental, cultural, social and economic impacts of tourism based on the UNWTO's sustainable tourism indicators.

With the world's largest giant panda breeding and research center, it is a paradise for panda lovers.

The city is also a popular destination for those interested in China's cultural legacies.

It is home to the remains of the Jinsha civilization that dates back more than 3,000 years.

Widely believed to have been the capital of the ancient Shu state, the site is hailed as one of the major archeological discoveries in China in the 21st century.

One of the Jinsha relics unearthed is a gold foil rendering of a divine solar bird. It is now used as the symbol of Chengdu and its local cultural heritage.

The city is also home to the Qingcheng Mountains and the Dujiangyan irrigation system. Qingcheng has long been recognized as the birthplace of Taoism, China's ancient indigenous religion, while Dujiangyan is considered to be the oldest functioning water-control project in the world.

Diverse cuisine adds to the allure. The region has more than 6,000 flavorful dishes, often spicy, including the iconic Sichuan hotpot.

Transportation is also convenient in the city. Chengdu is the fourth-biggest air hub in China. Its Shuangliu airport serves some 70 international routes.

It now appeals to business visitors worldwide because of its growing importance in China's economy.

Forbes magazine forecasts the city will be the fastest growing in the world by 2020 and will become one of the country's economic powerhouses.

Chengdu is already home to more than 250 Fortune 500 companies including IBM, Dell and Intel.

It hosted the Fortune Global Forum last June, the first city in western China to hold the event.

 Chengdu sweetens deal in visa-free visits

The popular attraction Sichuan Opera features fire breathing and faces that change with a flick of the hand.

 Chengdu sweetens deal in visa-free visits

Chengdu is home to the world's largest giant panda breeding and research center, a high point for many tourists. Photos Provided to China Daily

 Chengdu sweetens deal in visa-free visits

Work began on Dujiangyan in northwest Chengdu in AD 256. Today it is the oldest functioning water control project in the world.

(China Daily 03/13/2014 page24)