Riot zone in overdrive to lure back tourists

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 July, 2009, 12:00am

Xinjiang is pulling out all stops to lure tourists back to the famous Silk Road region in the wake of the deadly ethnic clashes earlier this month.

Airlines, hotels and tourist attractions will cut rates by up to 50 per cent to encourage travellers, according to the Tourism Bureau of Xinjiang.

Nearly 10 million yuan (HK$11.37 million) had been allocated to reward agencies for bringing in tourists 'in an effort to minimise the unprecedented damage', the bureau said yesterday.

A promotion - 'The Charms of Xinjiang' - will be aired by China Central Television from next month.

In other measures to help the tourism sector, businesses involved in tourism will enjoy tax relief, including the postponement of income and property taxes in the second half of the year. Banks have been ordered to suspend debts and issue more loans.

But Zhang Jun , owner of Xinjiang Yakexi Travel Service in the regional capital Urumqi, said the riots were so catastrophic he doubted the measures would help.

'July to September is the tourist season but none are showing up, calling or e-mailing. Our internet service is still dead,' he said. 'I can't wait for a government subsidy. I will be forced to lay off staff and cut operations.'

Official figures show more than 200,000 tourists have cancelled trips.