Zhanjiang appeals to tourists from Northeast China
Around 100,000 tourists from Northeast China travel through Zhanjiang every year on their way to more popular tourist destinations such as Hainan, with very few staying in the coastal city for more than a day.
The Zhanjiang government is determined for this to change and has taken radical steps to encourage more people to visit the city and have a look at what the southernmost city in Chinese mainland has to offer.
During a visit to the three major northern cities of Harbin, Changchun and Qiqihaer from Feb 23-37, Zhanjiang Mayor Wang Zhongbing encouraged locals to spend their winter breaks in Zhanjiang with a series of generous financial incentives to tempt the tourism sector.
Zhanjiang Mayor Wang Zhongbing introduces the city's tourism incentives during a promotional event in Harbin, Feb 25. [Photo / Zhanjiang Daily]
The mayor was clearly passionate on the subject and sincere on his promises. "Zhanjiang is ready and able, and won't let tourists down. I hope Zhanjiang has the chance to share its beauty with more people," he said.
The mayor also promised that those who arrange for tourists from Northeast China to spend one night in Zhanjiang are eligible for a 100 yuan ($15.27) reward per person. Those who arrange for tourists by air to spend two nights or above will be given 500 yuan per person and by train, 300 yuan per person.
Many northern tourism agencies were shocked by such incentives provided by the city. Wang Lili, general manager at Harbin Railway Int'l, the largest travel agency in the capital city of Heilongjiang province, said, "We have received tourism promotion teams from many cities, but this is first time we have seen (a city) come up with so much of a reward, with such favorable incentives.
"I know Zhanjiang is in the south-end of Chinese mainland. But we never really step into the city and know nothing about its tourism," Wang said.
According to the agency's estimation, around 100,000 people from the Northeast travel by train to spend winter on Hainan Island and most of them transit through Zhanjiang's Xuwen county on their way.
A sad fact acknowledged by Lin Dong, general manager of Zhanjiang China Travel Agency. He said, "We fail to make them stay. Usually they all hurry on to Hainan by bus after a meal here. Some might pause, but only for half a day at most."
It will make a great difference for Zhanjiang's tourism market even if only one third of the travellers from the northeast stay, Lin observed.
To appeal to more visitors, the Zhanjiang government has reached a pack of agreements with Harbin, Changchun and Qiqihaer in more fields such as medical treatment, social insurance and housing funds. It even offers a 10 percent discount for the northeasterners to buy a house in Zhanjiang, and certain rent-free policies for brand tourism distributors to open offices in the city.
At present, the coastal city is committed to building an ecological city shared by local residents and winter-break guests.