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Zhanjiang at forefront of tourism push

By Li Wenfang in Zhanjiang, Guangdong (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2015-07-22

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Zhanjiang authorities are to encourage the development of yachting and cruise travel facilities as part of efforts to spur tourism in line with the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Situated at the southernmost tip of the Chinese mainland, Zhanjiang is one of the pivot cities and its port listed as one to be strengthened in the 21st Centaury Maritime Silk Road strategy.

In the plan, issued by the Guangdong provincial government last month, for carrying out the "belt and road" strategy, Zhanjiang, together with Shantou and Zhuhai, is assigned the task of developing cruise travel, with Guangzhou and Shenzhen to set up international home ports.

With a number of cross-border tourism projects under the banner "belt and road" to be initiated, the provincial government hopes visitors between Guangdong and countries along the "belt and road" will double by 2020.

In developing the cruising industry, Zhanjiang intends to share resources with Southeast and South Asian destinations, and open domestic routes before embarking on short- and long-range international routes, according to the city's tourism administration.

Guo Jinjie, a professor at the college of economics and management of the Guangdong Ocean University, said: "Cruising is in vogue globally and sits at the high end of tourism products. The building of a cruise port and development of sea-related tourism facilities and businesses should allow the tourism market in Zhanjiang to flourish and the competitiveness of the city to be enhanced".

The government will support the upgrade of its seaside resorts to better take advantage of more than 100 bays.

Along the city's extensive coast, Xuwen county, at the southern tip, is a special spot, serving as the starting point for the ancient Maritime Silk Road.

Its historic status is complemented by a national coral reserve and sprawling tropical farms.

The county has the potential to become an extension of the international tourism island of Hainan province, two hours away by ferry across the Qiongzhou Strait.

The tourism appeal of Zhanjiang also includes Huguangyan Geopark, site of the world's largest low-relief volcanic crater lake, and colonial style buildings as part of the city was ceded to the French by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in 1899.

The way of life of local folk, identified as Leizhou culture and named after Leizhou Peninsular where the city is, also exhibits its own styles in dragon and lion dances and, most prominently, in the worship of dogs, as seen in numerous stone dog statues.

Seafood in Zhanjiang, which emphasizes natural flavor and simple cooking, also makes it the pride of local people.

The government also intends to build the city into a water sport competition and training base, with some facilities already built for hosting the 14th Guangdong Games scheduled to open on Saturday.

Tourism is one of the five pillar industries of Zhanjiang. The city hosted 29.07 million visitors last year, 14.3 percent up year-on-year, and generated 20.18 billion yuan ($3.25 billion) from tourism, up nearly 30 percent.