Shanxi opens its doors

Updated: 2015-09-16 08:17

By Yang Feiyue and Sun Ruisheng(China Daily)

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Shanxi opens its doors

Foreign tourists pose with a person dressed like a Qing Dynasty official in the ancient town of Pingyao. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Foreign tourists are welcomed to ancient sites and enjoy convenience of high-speed trains from Beijing and Shanghai. Yang Feiyue and Sun Ruisheng report.

Shanxi is going all out to let the world know it abounds in not only coal resources but also profound ancient culture and tourism resources.

The province invited travel agencies from 10 foreign countries on a five-day tour of its ancient cities and towns from Aug 28.

Local government hoped that those foreign buyers could experience Shanxi themselves and introduce quality local tourism resources to more foreign tourists.

"We welcome foreign friends to visit Shanxi," says Wang Wenbao, deputy director of the Shanxi tourism bureau, assuring that favorable policy, quality service and tourism resources will be offered to the visiting agents or to tourists in the future.

"We'll generally reduce entrance ticket price by 15 percent at public tourist attractions," he says.

Different packages with different prices will be launched for foreign tourists from different areas.

Tourists from Europe and the United States mostly take a shine to the Pingyao ancient city, while those from the Southeast Asia mostly go to Wutai Mountains and Yungang Grottos, which are religious centers, says He Zhiyong, managing director of the Shanxi Cordial International Tours Co, a major local travel agency dealing with foreign tourists to Shanxi.

To date, France is the biggest source of tourists to Shanxi. Those from Germany, Japan and South Korea have also contributed a lot to local tourism development.

"We hope our inbound tourism will maintain an annual growth of 10-20 percent in the future," Wang says.

Approximately 380,000 tourists from outside the mainland stayed at hotels in Shanxi during the first eight months this year, up 50.5 percent. The province raked in $197 million in tourism income during the period, up 5.53 percent.

Last year, a total of 800,000 tourists from outside the mainland visited Shanxi.

The introduction of Shanxi's tourism resources to the outside world is also part of efforts to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with countries and regions that support China's One Belt, One Road initiative.

Ancient cities and towns are an important part of global cultural heritage, says Wang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the China National Tourism Administration.

"Shanxi's ancient cities and towns are very typical of all in China. Pingyao ancient city is an outstanding example of that," Wang says.

The ancient city has been considered one of the four best-preserved across China, and it was rated by the World Heritage Committee as the best-preserved ancient county in China and an outstanding example of ethnic Han cities of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1368-1911) dynasties.

Representatives from Germany, France, Canada, Spain, Italy, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia were divided into two groups to savor tourism resources across the province, including Mount Wutai in Xinzhou, Pingyao ancient city in Jinzhong, Hanging Temple in Datong, Hukou Waterfall in Linfen and the Prime Minister's Palace in Jincheng.

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