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Private financing sought for tourism in Xinjiang

Su Zhou in Urumqi
Updated: Jul 27,2015 7:36 AM     China Daily

Private investors are being invited to help build 100 tourism projects with an estimated investment of about 25 billion yuan ($4 billion) in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in the next five years.

The China National Tourism Administration and Xinjiang tourism authority have released a list of about 100 proposed tourism projects that private investors are being invited to fund, build and operate.

The list includes the Silk Road tourism hub, cross-border tourism and a medical tourism service.

In the past five years, more than 5 billion yuan from governments has been invested in 200 projects that have also attracted more than 20 billion yuan from tourism companies. The projects have significantly improved the tourism infrastructure and industry level in Xinjiang.

Wu Wenxue, deputy director of the China National Tourism Administration, said the market, instead of the government, should be the driving force for the tourism industry in Xinjiang.

“Now is a great time for the private sector to invest in Xinjiang,” Wu said. “Xinjiang has abundant tourism resources but an immature tourism industry. The region has great potential.

“Tourism investment is growing rapidly despite the ‘new normal’ economic situation,” Wu added.

In the next three years, direct investment in the Chinese tourism industry will reach 3 trillion yuan. At the same time, the industry will attract more than 15 trillion yuan in investment.

Terrorist attacks in Xinjiang last year harmed its economic growth, especially that of the tourism industry, which in the first half of 2014 faced its first negative growth for the past two decades.

However, Wu said investors will no longer be deterred.

“Investors in the tourism industry are very sensitive to the investment environment. I think that the situation in Xinjiang has been stabilized and it can provide a stable and safe social and economic environment to attract investors.”

Liu Xiuli from Zibo, Shandong province, was among the early investors in Xinjiang. She arrived in the region in 2007 and her company has invested about 700 million yuan on building a scenic spot, which was rated as a 5A Scenic Spot in 2012-the top rating.

Liu, general manager of Xinjiang Yuanfang Tourism, said, “Besides tourism development, we also focus on environmental protection and improving local people’s livelihoods.

“We have introduced a market-oriented operating system for local herdsmen.

“Within the scenic spot we helped to build, there are inns, shopping centers and village-themed restaurants everywhere. These not only benefit residents but also visitors.”