URUMQI – China’s northwestern city of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, aims to attract 10 million tourists this year as the ethnically diverse city recovers from the deadly riot two years ago.
Director of Urumqi’s tourism bureau, Shewketi Tursun, said Tuesday that the government expects 7.5 billion yuan (1.15 billion U.S. dollars) of revenue from tourism and tourist shopping this year, up from 6.37 billion yuan in 2010.
Tursun said the regional government hopes to achieve that goal by intensifying promotion efforts in cities across the country and by regulating the tourism sector, mostly through curbing price speculation and false advertisements.
Urumqi is a town along the ancient Silk Road, located on the verge of northwest China’s sprawling desert with a population of over 2 million. With air links to major Chinese and central Asian cities, Urumqi serves as a jumping-off point for back-packers on their way to Xinjiang’s idyllic pastures and mountain villages.
Urumqi, with a fairly large presence of the ethnic Uygurs, also features a number of ethnic cultural sights of interests.
The city’s tourism plunged to its lowest point in decades after the riot on July 5, 2009, which left 197 people dead. Authorities blame overseas separatists for instigating the riot.
Official figures show that tourism slowly recovered last year with the number of tourists rising 15 percent year-on-year to reach 7.82 million in 2010.