Winter tourism booming in China’s West

Beijing, Nov 19 (IANS) Off-season travel to western Chinese provinces has become increasingly popular among tourists, authorities said on Thursday.

Starting from October, several tourist destinations in western Chinese provinces, such as the Qinghai Lake and Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, have seen more tourists compared to before, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the Qinghai provincial tourism bureau, Qinghai hosted 1.87 million tourists in October, up 23 percent from the last year.

Zhang Yan, deputy director of the bureau, forecast two-digit growth in tourist numbers and spending from November to March next year. Similar growth is also expected in the neighbouring Gansu province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous region.

Zhou Xianghong, a professor of economic management at Shanghai-based Tongji University, attributed the growth to more public demand to travel, convenient transportation and the general off-season appeal.

More high-speed trains and air routes have been opened in the west, greatly shortening travel time.

“Western regions bear special appeal for the city dwellers. They also attract a growing number of overseas tourists, who want to see the wild and real China,” said Zhou.

Tourist destinations and hotels have also started winter sales and discounts on online shopping malls to increase numbers.

Mogao Grottoes, in Dunhuang, said it will open more caves for tourists during the winters.

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