Wuhan gets tourism plug

Updated: 2013-12-13 09:43

By CHEN JIA in Santa Clara, California (China Daily USA)

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In a move to promote bilateral tourism during the holiday season, a delegation of tourism officials from Wuhan, the capital city of China's central province Hubei, kicked off a US tour in Silicon Valley on Wednesday.

"The US has become our second major source of international visitors in recent years," Xu Xuqun, the deputy director of Wuhan Tourism Bureau, told China Daily at a travel promotion event held in Santa Clara, California, on Wednesday night.

Last year, the number of American travelers to Wuhan reached 174,000, an annual increase of 57 percent, he said.

The soaring numbers might be explained in part by a new air route linking Wuhan and San Francisco, which has been in operation since April of this year and is part of the city's effort to become China's fourth-biggest air transport hub — after Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, he said.

The Wuhan-Shanghai-San Francisco flights are available three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The outbound flight takes off from Wuhan Tianhe at 9:30 am, with a stopover at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, arriving in San Francisco at 9:30 am. The return flight departs San Francisco at noon and arrives in Wuhan at 8 in the evening the next day.

"In order to facilitate travel, we have provided a series of special services, including free high-speed railway transfer between Wuhan and another city of Hubei province —Yi Chang," Zhang Shengli, general manager of marketing with China Eastern Wuhan Airlines, said on Wednesday.

As an important transportation hub of China, Wuhan is located in central China and is a mega city along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

Covering a land area of 8,494 square kilometers and with a population of around 12 million, Wuhan's high-tech industry, automobile industry and other businesses occupy a prominent place in the country's economy.

Wuhan is one of the nation's six aviation hubs and four railway hubs, and the center of the national high-speed railway network. It only takes about five hours to get from Wuhan to major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Shenzhen by high-speed rail.

The city is also the gateway to the golden international tourism route of the Three Georges, an attraction for tourists who are fascinated by the riverside and lakeside landscapes.

"Tourists can find the hometown of Hua Mulan, a Chinese heroine of antiquity," Li Lelin, deputy director of Huangpi District Business and Tourism Bureau of Wuhan, said. "We also have seven grade-AAAA national tourist resorts of here."

With a 3,5000-year-old history, Wuhan is also the origin of Chinese Chu culture, he added.

"I encourage more US students to study in Wuhan, where the number of colleges and universities ranks third in China," Ernest Garcia, CEO of Direction21, an international business and academic consulting company, said at Wednesday's event.

These students will bring back to the United States good experiences and share compelling stories with more Americans via social media, he said. "They could be the best tourism ambassadors between two sides," he said.

Contact the writer at chenjia@chinadailyusa.com