Tourism industry to boom on back of big investment projects
In the wake of the decision to turn Zhanjiang into a major tourism destination of Southern China in the city government's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), swathes of investment has flowed into the coastal city to create a new pillar of industry.
Located just north of one of China's most popular beach tourism attractions, the island province of Hainan, Zhanjiang enjoys a similar subtropical climate to many of the world's greatest holiday hot spots, including Hawaii and Miami in the United States.
Zhanjiang's white sandy beaches, clean seawater, long summers, hot springs, volcanic geology and fresh seafood are just a few of its major draws, according to Huang Jianhui, vice president of Dinglong Group, one of the developers that has invested in the city's tourism sector.
The company, together with Country Garden, one of China's top real estate developers, is to invest 50 billion yuan ($7.5 billion) to build an international ocean theme park in the county-level city of Wuchuan in Zhanjiang.
The 1,667-hectare park, named Loong Bay Ecological Ocean Resort, will consist of China's biggest water park, four-to-five international hotels including Le Meridien, Four Points by Sheraton, Marriott and Courtyard, a Buddhist culture town, Asia's largest forest safari park and a hot spring town, according to Huang.
So far, a part of the water park has been completed and opened to the public.
"We expect the new high-speed rail, which stops in Wuchuan, will bring in a large number of travelers from the Pearl River Delta area, Hong Kong and Macao during the summer vacation period, which reinforces our investment confidence," Huang said.
Of the 50 billion yuan planned investment, so far more than 10 billion yuan has been used since construction work began in 2009.
To attract more visitors and raise awareness of the facilities available, the company is offering 2,000 complementary tickets everyday to its newly opened water park from July 1 to July 31, for travelers who arrive via high-speed train, he added.
The project is a part of the Wuchuan government's effort to upgrade its Jizhao Bay tourism area, according to Hong Haiwei, an official from the city.
A major part of the project, which is expected to attract 800 million yuan in investment, is aimed at improving Jizhao Bay's public services and information systems, as well as developing a tourism resort for elderly visitors with a focus on healthy lifestyles.
Additionally, Magnificent Development Holdings, a company owned by Shun Ho Group from Hong Kong, will invest 4.3 billion yuan in developing more cultural tourism in Jizhao Bay, according to Hong.
In total, more than 75 billion yuan in investment is being spread around Jizhao Bay's 27.5-kilometer coastline, he added.
Peng Hui, director of the Zhanjiang Tourism Bureau, said the tourism industry will become stronger, attracting even greater sums of investment as the transportation network continues to be improved.
A further four high-speed rail lines, six highways and a new international airport are scheduled to start construction in the near future, which will connect Zhanjiang at the southernmost part of China's land mass with the rest of the nation, Peng said.
The government of Zhanjiang launched 38 tourism-related projects in order to attract greater investment from home and abroad in mid-June.
Xu Taozun, general manager of a resort on Techeng Island, which is located just three miles from downtown Zhanjiang, said the city's tourism business will get better with the new high-speed rail.
"We rely heavily on the natural resources of Zhanjiang, for example the natural islands and hot springs, ancient mangroves and unique food, Xu said. "I hope these things will remain pristine and preserved when the tourism industry really starts to boom."