Tourists say they aren't afraid to travel in Xinjiang
Although a succession of terrorist attacks has disrupted the tourism industry in theXinjiang Uygur autonomous region, many travelers said they do not worry for theirsafety and still wish to experience the region's culture and beauty.
"I really don't want to go back home because Xinjiang is incredibly beautiful, and theweather is pleasant," Jin Lingyu, a tourist from the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang,said on Thursday at Tianshan Tianchi National Park. "Although my husband knew I waskidding when I said we should settle here one day, he actually suggested we considermoving after we retire."
The couple flew to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, on July 3 for their annual vacationand spent some time at the grasslands and lakes in the Ili Kazak and Bortala Mongolianautonomous prefectures.
"I know there have been terrorist attacks in the past few months and that some badguys want to make trouble with the government, but I am not worried about our safety,"she said, adding that "it is quite natural for a big country like China to have someannoying problems".
However, the local tourism industry has indeed been affected by the attacks, sheadded.
"In a market in the border city of Khorgas, I saw barely any tourists, and the vendorstold me that their businesses were hugely affected by the recent incidents."
Terror slows travel
In April, 15 police officers and civilians were killed in terrorist attacks in Bachu county,Kashgar prefecture.
Another attack on June 26 in Lukqun township, Turpan prefecture, left 35 people dead.Two days later, a riot broke out in Hotan prefecture. The number of casualties remainsunknown.
Prompted by the attacks, tourism departments in some provinces issued notices toresidents, advising caution while traveling. And many tourists became hesitant to travelto the region due to security concerns, according to the regional tourism bureau.
More than 560 group tours and 31 meetings have been cancelled since late June.
In efforts to revitalize the tourism industry, the bureau has joined forces with othergovernment departments and local tourism companies to ensure safe travel conditions.
So far, some travelers have visited the area despite concerns and have had positiveexperiences.
"I will go to Turpan, Ili and Kanas Lake in Altay," said Nan Xi, an 18-year-old fromZhejiang.
"Xinjiang food is delicious, the weather is cozy and local people are very friendly. I havenot had any safety issues," she said.
Zhang Xiang, 23, who came to the region last week to visit relatives, said he plans tofind a job in the region.
"After I land a job here, I will be able to travel around Xinjiang. Safety has never been aconcern for me," he said. "I am thinking about going to Turpan now because the grapesare ripe. I will indulge myself with sweet grapes."
Anne Craig, from Scotland, said she just finished a sightseeing tour in Kashgar and hasdecided to spend at least two days in Urumqi.
"I've seen a lot of beautiful places in Xinjiang and met so many friendly people whowere very nice and helpful."
Craig said she had heard of the terrorist attacks but does not worry for her safety.
Asel Kuzhakhmet, a businesswoman from Kazakhstan, said: "To be honest, I was a littlescared when I watched the news about the incidents."
Kuzhakhmet said this is her fourth trip to Xinjiang.
"I am now feeling relaxed since I know the local government is able to protect us," shesaid. "And even if something bad happens, I am sure the police will do their best toensure our safety."
Her confidence in Xinjiang is shared by a group of tourists and Chinese micro-bloggerswho have launched an online campaign to support the region and its tourism sector.
The campaign, called "Xinjiang, here I come!" has attracted tens of thousands of Webusers to post travel photos taken in Xinjiang, with some saying they want to show theworld the treasures the region has to offer.