Yunnan aims to get more and more tourists

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I once worked for a national tourism agency which had as its main aim and its benchmark, to increase the number of tourists each year. In fact, their goal was to have more overseas visitors than residents.

After a while they realised that quantity is not the same as quality.
You see, having a whole lot of tourists places extra strain on certain places, particularly those with little infrastructure to cope with the influx of guests. And also there's little chance to get 'users-paying'.

What's more, having lots of tourists also detracts from the experience. Afterall, if you travel half way around the globe, you don't want or expect to be rubbing shoulders with your fellow countrymen and women.

Here in Yunnan we had two things happen this week:
a new airport
a goal of doubling tourist numbers

OK, three if you count a new airline starting up.

The airport, for sure, has some historical value for foreigners. Tengchong is close to Myanmar, and also a key location for the US Flying Tigers, volunteers who helped China fight against those awful Japs in WWII.

There's also the travel time, cut from 10 hours from Kunming to 50 minutes by plane.

Not cheap though:
"The 476-million-yuan (69 million U.S. dollars) Camel Peak Airport is able to handle 480,000 passengers and 2,100 tons of cargo per year, and it is expected to handle as many as 295,000 passengers in 2009.
The site of the airport was in Camel Peak Village, about 12 kilometers from the Tengchong county seat. In 2008, Tengchong received 2.88 million tourists.
Camel Peak Village is closely associated with the Tigers and the famous Camel Peak Aviation Route across the Himalayas which was called the "death route." It was used to deliver urgently needed military supplies more than 60 years ago.
The Tigers were a band of volunteer U.S. military men sent in secret to Asia by President Franklin D. Roosevelt before the United States entered World War II. They joined an air force organized for China by Claire Lee Chennault, a retired U.S. Army colonel."

On the same day the airport opened, Yunnan's tourism chief announced overseas visitors were up 13% from 2007. Last year Yunnan got 2.5 million visitors from overseas.

Here's what he told China Daily:

Yu Dingcheng, the provincial tourism bureau director, told China Daily in an exclusive interview that he "intends to double that figure" in the near future to turn Yunnan into a hub for international travelers.

"Tourism has become a pillar industry of Yunnan," he said, adding that some 100 million trips, domestic and international, were made to the province in 2008, bringing in a revenue of 66.3 billion yuan ($9.9 billion).

Though already well-known in foreign countries for its World Heritage site, Old Lijiang Town, which is the world's deepest canyon, and other attractions like the Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shangri-La, Yu said the province wanted to expand its fame by making "a capital of recreation" out of it, with a slogan that reads: "Colorful Yunnan, Tourism Paradise of the World".

"We are aiming to attract 2.62 million overseas visitors this year, up 5.9 percent from 2008," he said.

Governor Qin Guangrong said last week that the province, known for its diversified culture comprising of 26 ethnic groups - the maximum for a Chinese province - should strive to see "110 million trips by domestic and international tourists in 2009, with an estimated cash revenue of 73 billion yuan".

"We want to attract more overseas tourists this year by nurturing new tourism products catering their needs, expanding promotion abroad and improving online publicity," Yu said.

He said more travel agencies will be encouraged to promote the new products, and scenic locations in major markets like Hong Kong, Macao and Southeast Asia.

"Moreover, we will better promote Yunnan online, as the Internet is now the most convenient channel for publicity.

"We will be happy to call Yunnan, a destination of international travelers, when we get at least 5 million overseas visitors a year," he said.

The tourism chief said they had termed 2009 as the "Year of Online Promotion" for the province's tourism sector, with online audio and visual documentation.

"I am sure we can better promote tourism via the Internet," Yu said.

The provincial government has allocated 5 million yuan as a special fund to award outstanding units and individuals who contribute to the expansion of Yunnan's tourism market this year, he said.

While tourism can benefit local communities, much of the development in Yunnan doesn't. It is either controlled by government, or by greedy bastards from other places. Already you get rich Chinese and foreigners forking out for a meal what farmers earn in a year.
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