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Mayor seeks winter tourism growth from the north
Riding high on the back of a tourism boom, Zhanjiang Mayor Wang Zhongbing has put the call out to those in the colder climes of northern China to come and experience what the warm southern coastal city has to offer winter tourists.
The mayor extended his invitation during a tourism symposium held on Feb 9, which discussed the Guangdong city's fast-growing tourism brand.
Zhanjiang broke several records last year, carrying more passengers at its airport and welcoming more Spring Festival visitors than ever before.
Zhanjiang outlines plans for tourism development at a symposium on Feb 9. [Photo by Liu Jicheng/Zhanjiang.gov.cn]
More than 37 million visitors set foot in Zhanjiang in 2016, spending 35 billion yuan ($5 billion) in the process – a year-on-year growth of 28.7 percent. The seven-day Spring Festival break saw 3.6 million tourists set loose in the city, pumping 1.2 billion yuan into the local economy, up 23 percent on the previous year.
From the north itself, 11,300 tourists visited the city in 118 tour groups from March to December in 2016.
Wang attributes this growth to the supply-side reform of the tourism sector and the city's many attractions. That, combined with Zhanjiang's subtropical climate, makes it an ideal destination for visitors from the northeast to escape the bitter cold for a little winter sun.
Transport links to the northeast have also been opened up to provide greater convenience, such as direct flights to Zhanjiang from Shenyang and Dalian in Liaoning province.
Wang's hopes to broaden Zhanjiang's winter appeal stem from the city's desire to become a year-round travel hotspot, rivaling the likes of Haikou and Sanya, and increase year-round hotel occupancy.
Zhanjiang Mayor suggests that the city should do more to promote its tourism attractions to northeasterners. [Photo by Liu Jicheng/Zhanjiang.gov.cn]
"Winter tourism can boost consumption in all areas of economy, especially in hotels and hospitality," said Wang.
Wang said year-round promotion through various channels should be covered in northern cities, especially Shenyang, Changchun, and Dalian where promotion centers will be established.
These steps will be combined with Zhanjiang's desire for chambers of commerce from northern cities to establish bases in the city, as well as Zhanjiang cooperating with tourist hotspots such as Haikou to cross-promote each other's tourist attractions, according to Wang.