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One mln tourism windfall for Hunan residents


South China's Hunan residents received an unexpected windfall recently when the local tourism office showered them with 1 million yuan's worth of vouchers, offering cut-price hotel rooms and free admission to many of the province's most popular visitor attractions.


The move comes as part of the province's bid to stimulate "local tourism" and persuade residents to explore more of the attractions that are available on their own doorsteps.


Yang Guangrong, head of the provincial tourist administration office, said:" The purpose of distributing the tourism vouchers was to attract potential tourists and spur the local Hunan tourism markets. The move was simple yet effective. It increases a consumers inclination to travel and delivers cost-effective results in a very short period of time."


Across the province, individual cities have adopted their own policies when it comes to stimulating the tourist trade in moves that are now seen as vital when it comes to combating the current economic malaise:


In Zhangjiajie, a popular tourist destination known for its natural beauty and cultural heritage, the city government has arranged rebates on many charter flights.


Travelers to the city are also entitled to discount on A-level listed tourism spots as well as savings on tourist guide fees.


Xiangxi in the western region of Hunan has launched a series of discounted ethnically-themed tourist incentives.


The area is famed for its pristine forests, serene mountain lakes and Miao ethnic culture, as featured in the novel "Border Town" by Shen Congwen.


The region's tourism incentives are in keeping with its ethnic ethos and see visitors offered the opportunity to experience Miao-themed events and tours.


Of all the cities in Hunan, Yueyang has arguably the most intriguing historical track record. The province is now committed to majoring on its cultural milestones as a lure for potential visitors.


Commenting on the region's expected tourism upturn, Yang said: "Hunan's commitment to developing its tourism base will result in a considerable funding upturn for the province. Tourism, with its undoubted add-on benefits, is a vital part of the local economy.


"2009 will see tourism emerge as one of the few sectors that can generate an annual turnover of more than 100 billion yuan. It is at least as important to us as our interests in engineering, petrochemicals, nonferrous metal and food production."


Yang said: "Even though the global economy is facing tough times, we believe that tourism remains a strong proposition for Hunan.


"We are making every effort to encourage market growth and ensure that the province is ideally positioned to benefit, in tourism terms, when the eventual international recovery inevitably occurs."


(China Daily March 12, 2009)