Cash incentive helps lure tourists to Xinjiang

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 5:07am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 9:07am

A scheme to give tourists from other areas of China 500 yuan (HK$627) to visit Xinjiang - which has been hit by a series of violent attacks - yielded a modest increase in tourism in the first quarter of the year, according to an official.

The scheme to boost visitor numbers was prompted by attacks in the region blamed on Muslim separatists and to encourage tourism during the winter season, said Li Wenqing, deputy director of regional tourism. "It was a special move, which was needed at a special time. We had never done it before," he said. "We are glad that the results were positive and it continued the growth in the number of tourists coming to Xinjiang," he added, without giving figures.

Another regional tourism official said last month that the authorities were considering extending the scheme to help revive the remote region's flagging tourist industry.

Tourism chief Inam Nesirdin told China Radio International that visitors numbers had fallen since the knife attack at Kunming railway station in March which the government also blamed on Muslim separatists from Xinjiang.

Since then there have been knife and bomb attacks in several mainland cities including the killing of 39 people at a market in Urumqi last month.

A bomb and knife attack on April 30 at the main railway station in Urumqi killed a bystander and injured 79 others. Two attackers also died.

About 240,000 foreign tourists went to Xinjiang in the first three months of the year, a five per cent increase over the same period last year, according to official figures.

A new incentive scheme to encourage tourism would be rolled out shortly and offering the same cash incentive had not been ruled out, said Li.

"The situation we are faced with now warrants another special measure," he said.