Tourism investments for booming Zhanjiang, China
Zhanjiang is welcoming tourism investment from Hong Kong into its promising tourism industry, which is expected to boom around 2016 after the city's transport facilities have improved, a top city official said.
"The seaport in the west of Guangdong province is bestowed with rich marine, ecological, historical and cultural, climate and labor resources," said Zhuang Xiaodong, deputy mayor, summing up Zhanjiang's advantages in developing tourism.
The city's coastline extends 2,023.6 kilometers, and it is home to 122 uninhabited islands, providing tourists with extensive, tranquil sea views.
The flat Leizhou Peninsula, one of the country's three biggest peninsulas, resembles a landscape painting of golden banana plantations and a sea of green sugar cane.
The Mazu culture mingles with the Gaozhou culture in Zhanjiang, and the two offer distinctive cultural attractions, such as carved stone dogs and dragon dances.
Expected tourism boom an opportunity for investment
Lying south of the Tropic of Capricorn, the city enjoys a warm climate and abundant sunshine, the basics it needs to become a tourist destination for winter vacation.
"Many people in Northeast China and Russia will escape the winter chill in Hainan on holiday. These people are also our potential customers," said Zhuang.
"Zhanjiang is not just an island and is thus able to offer more diverse forms of leisure to tourists than Hainan can."
With a population of nearly 8 million, the city has sufficient human resources to develop the labor-intensive tourism industry, Zhuang said.
In despite of its rich tourism resources, Zhanjiang still draws few visitors, especially from overseas.
Overseas tourists that visited Zhanjiang last year numbered 90,000, while 13.1 million tourists came overall. The ratio of Chinese tourists to foreign ones is 146-to-1 in Zhanjiang but averages about 30-to-1 in most of the city's major tourist cities.
"The main problem is with transportation. We are a leader in freight transport thanks to the harbor and the rails, but we are lagging behind in terms of passenger traffic," Zhuang said.
"We don't have high-speed rails, nor do we have many international airways."
In July, Hu Chunhua, Party chief of Guangdong province, announced at a conference that the provincial government will invest 672 billion yuan ($110 billion) into constructing the province's underdeveloped western, eastern and northern areas, presenting a golden opportunity for the city.
"The western area, with Zhanjiang as the major city, will focus on improving its transportation infrastructure," said Zhuang.
A high-speed rail linking cities in the west of Guangdong with the Pearl River Delta will be completed and put into use by 2016.
A journey from Zhanjiang to Guangzhou or Shenzhen will be shortened from a car ride of at least five hours to only two hours by train. Experts are considering the relocation of Zhanjiang's airport to enlarge its capacity, paving the way to establish more international airways.