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Sailing toward a new image for tourists
enorth.com.cn   2009-04-08 09:49


Tianjin, a Chinese city on the Bohai Gulf, has plenty to draw visitors, including colonial Western buildings, goubuli baozi (steamed stuffed meat buns) and nationally renowned Yangliuqing paintings of fat babies at Spring Festival.

With China's economic growth slowing, the tourism and leisure business may hold the key to boosting confidence and stimulating spending and Tianjin leaders are trying to attract more travelers from home and abroad.

A North China tourism industry festival is scheduled in Tianjin this September and is expected to boost the city's (and the North China region's) image as a travel destination.

Sailing toward a new image for tourists

The festival, jointly organized by National Tourism Administration and Tianjin Tourism Bureau, is supposed to showcase North China's tourist charms and give the local economy a shot in the arm.

"We plan to make the festival a golden opportunity to establish Tianjin tourism as an international brand. The festival will be a northern counterpart to the Chinese international travel festival in the South part of the country. Eventually we want more tourists to come, which could help spur Tianjin's economy," said Ren Xuefeng, deputy mayor of Tianjin.

Tianjin has developed its own economic stimulus policy to help the municipality deal with the economic downturn. It includes 20 tourism promotion events in 2009, such as the Huang Yaguan International Invitational Marathon, the Yu Yang Gold Autumn Travel Festival and the Five-Avenue International Cultural Festival, according to She Qingwen, head of Tianjin Tourism Bureau.

Tourism directly supports as many as 26 industrial sectors and indirectly another 32 in Tianjin, said She.

Every yuan invested in the tourism industry has the potential to bring in 4.3 yuan for related industries, added She.

"The festival could boost GDP growth and also help diversify the municipality's industry (if it creates a sustained tourism boom)," said Qin Haiying, economics professor of Nankai University of Tianjin.

"The development of the tourism industry will step up infrastructure construction as well as forestation work. Besides, developing tourist programs, such as agricultural sightseeing, will stimulate related economic segments," said Qin.

Tianjin will streamline many of its current tourism resources and will develop an international-standard tourist resort, according to the Tianjin Tourism Bureau

Haihe River, which crosses the urban area of the city, will become a sightseeing route. Tourist boats will be added and tourism spots will be built along both sides of the river.

In addition, Tianjin will further bolster construction of 10 key tourism projects, such as the Tianjin Polar Ocean Park, International Passenger liner Home Port and Qianzhun Yufo Temple.

The city will also explore its "industrial tourism" resources; the assembly line of Airbus A320 and some other famous production lines will open to visitors at regular intervals.

"We have launched several polices aimed at luring overseas tourists, since inbound tourism is largely affected by the global recession. Domestic and outbound tourism have been relatively stable," said She Qingwen.

The specific measures include invitations to overseas traveling businessmen and domestic large-scale travel agencies and cooperation with Beijing and other provinces and cities around the Bohai Bay region, as well as Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Northeast Asian economies in the form of a signed agreement on market interaction, advertising and information sharing.

The tourism bureau is discussing policies on visa-free access for overseas tourists coming to Tianjin and fast-passes through customs for passenger liners.

"These policies will make Tianjin more attractive," said Qin Haiying. "They will improve the tourists' mood at large. Customs is where visitors get their first impression of the city, so a good experience there is an important role in advertising Tianjin as a destination. Such policies will hopefully entice visitors to stay in the city instead of just using it as a transit station."

Tianjin aims to receive 1.41 million overseas tourists in 2009, up 16 percent year-on-year. Domestically it hopes for about 75 million Chinese travelers to visit the city, up 10 percent year-on-year.


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Editor: Zhang Jialu

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