Visitors seek solace in deep South from cold
When you consider the fact that even brown-headed gulls migrate to Zhanjiang, a coastal city in South China's Guangdong province, to spend the freezing winter months, it's not too surprising to learn that the human residents of China's northeastern regions like to do the same.
Statistics show that 11,300 tourists from northeastern China toured the city in 118 separate tour groups from March to December last year, showing that winter tours from the region to the warm and picturesque city are growing into their own industry.
The increasing number of tourists from China's frozen regions has proven a boon for tourism enterprises, which have in turn benefited from local government support.
The Zhanjiang city government announced early last year that it gave local tourism enterprises up to 500 yuan ($72) for each tourist that traveled with them.
Northeast China's travel agencies have also been encouraged to establish branches in the city, where they will be provided with rent-free premises for a year.
Visitors are encouraged to access local healthcare providers and apply for urban housing accumulation fund loans in Zhanjiang.
City Mayor Wang Zhongbing said: "Zhanjiang has obvious attractions for tourists and their subsequent demands drive the supplyside reform of the tourism sector.
"We are all working to ensure that everyone who visits the city feels a genuine sense of belonging."
The city's clear, blue skies, temperate climate, charming coastline and the fact that its fruit trees yield bounty year-round are all pleasant surprises for tourists from Northeast China, one visitor wrote in a letter to his tour operator after a trip.
Wen Diqiang, general manager of Zhanjiang Comfort Travel Co, said: "Visitors to Zhanjiang can best discover the city's charms by indulging in a longer holiday due to the slow pace of life and efficient urban infrastructure."
Ma Yue, an executive with Liaoning Overseas Travel Agency, echoed Wen's sentiments. "The growth of the city's winter tourism industry marks a market shift from tourists' previous preferences for the island province of Hainan, and Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai in Guangdong province," he said.
Last year, the city opened direct flights to Shenyang and Dalian, which has helped to establish the city as a new tourist destination for travelers from Northeast China's Liaoning province.
Looking forward, travel agencies anticipate more air routes and an improved transportation network helping to cater to the rising demand from tourism.
Zhanjiang Bay offers tourists a unique seaside experience.Fang Xiong / For China Daily
(China Daily 01/16/2017 page24)