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Shaanxi bids to boost tourism

Tourism officials here in the Shaanxi capital have launched an aggressive marketing campaign to combat the effects of the economic slowdown.


"We are working to stimulate the recovery and growth of our overseas tourism market in order to minimize the impact of the financial crisis," Dong Xianmin, director of the Shaanxi tourism administration bureau, told China Daily yesterday.


However, domestic tourism remains the first priority and a number of projects are under way to make local scenic spots, and historic and cultural sites more attractive to visitors, Dong said.


"We will also cooperate more with neighboring provinces and regions to grow the market for domestic visitors and make greater efforts to promote rural tourism," he said.


To help local tourism firms during these difficult times, the bureau is offering a range of financial incentives, including returning quality guarantees, he said.


"We have paid back more than 70 million yuan ($10 million) to local agencies," he said.


As a result of the global economic slowdown, Shaanxi saw its tourist numbers grow by just 2 percent last year, Dong said.


Chen Qingliang, deputy director of the tourism bureau, said: "The growth was way below our forecast of 20 percent.


"We saw far fewer visitors from places such as the United States and Japan than we expected," he said.


A Xi'an travel guide surnamed Ren said business had been very slow since the May 12 earthquake and she thought this year would be equally difficult.


Li Jian, who works at an overseas travel agency in the city, agreed, saying several of his colleagues had been laid off.


Hao Suo, a professor with the tourism management department of Northwest University's economic management college, said: "I think it's good that the tourism authority is trying to develop its tourism products because Shaanxi has many places that are not as attractive as they could be."


(China Daily January 15, 2009)