Xinjiang, endowed with natural beauty and rich ethnic culture, sees surging inflow of tourists
Published: Sep 19, 2023 04:48 PM
A view of Kashi Old Town in Kashi Prefecture, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on September 17, 2023 Photo: Li Xuanmin/GT

A view of Kashi Old Town in Kashi Prefecture, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on September 17, 2023 Photo: Li Xuanmin/GT

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, a group of tourists from home and overseas are dressed in traditional Uygur costumes, dancing to folk music, gobbling down kebabs and snapping up local specialties in the 1,000-year-old Kashi Old Town in Kashi Prefecture, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. 

In recent years, there has been a craze for taking trips to Xinjiang. The region, an important node of the ancient Silk Road, has seen an unprecedented spike in tourists this year, the Global Times learned, with multiple tourist attractions recording jumps of nearly 50 percent in traffic compared with 2019. 

The resource-rich region has welcomed rising overseas tourists from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia this summer, which mirrors the rising fame of Xinjiang as a tourism magnet. Observers said that the region's booming tourism would inject new impetus into the local economy, which has gained momentum in growth that will debunk the smearing and lies by anti-China forces in the West.

A group of more than 100 foreign tourists arrived in Urumqi earlier this week, flying in from Singapore, on an eight-day journey across Xinjiang with stops in Karamay and the Kanas scenic spot in Altay, the Global Times learned.

This is the second tour group from Singapore, composed of over 100 people, to travel to Xinjiang this year, with travelers mostly coming from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. The first group arrived in Xinjiang last week, and it is expected that about 800 tourists would join tours in Xinjiang in September and October.

The tourists are excited to see the "splendid culture, magnificent scenery and exotic charm" of Xinjiang, said Li Liangyi, the chairman of Singapore-based Huayun Culture and Tourism Group, which is the organizer of the group trip, the Xinjiang Daily reported. 

International tourists have flocked to other scenic spots across Xinjiang, such as Turpan, which is known as China's "furnace" for its intense heat and low rainfall. After entering the Grape Valley located at the foot of the scenic Flaming Mountains in Turpan, the Global Times on Saturday saw crowds of tourists dancing to a local ethnic performance.

"There has been a rapid surge in overseas tourists from Malaysia and Thailand this year," Zhang Mingming, vice general director of the Turpan business division under the Xinjiang Culture and Tourism Group, told the Global Times. The group is the operator of Grape Valley.

According to Zhang, the spot has received a total of 800,000 travelers so far this year, up 45 percent from 2019, and he expects more tourists during the upcoming eight-day National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays. 

In southern Xinjiang's Kashi, almost all local homestays during the National Day holidays at the Kashi Old Town have been booked, and the inquires on photo-shooting tour have soared too," a tour guide named Maierhaba told the Global Times. She added that in the first half this year, over 5.6 million tourists have visited the town, compared with 5 million visitors in 2022. 

Local vendors are having high expectations for the upcoming long holidays.

"Business is getting better and better. There are 1,000 tourists coming to my store every day, and I expect traffic to be higher during the holidays," Gusailingnuo, the owner of a Uygur cloth shop in Kashi Old Town, told the Global Times.

According to a report sent by online travel agency to the Global Times, bookings for tailored tourism products during the National Day holidays at the platform are up 93 percent from 2019, with Xinjiang described as a hot destination.

Industry insiders said the hustle and bustle in the local tourism industry has offered a window gauging the recovery of consumption in Xinjiang, as the "travel rush" will most likely lead to an uptick in accommodation and catering service consumption.

In the first eight months, Xinjiang has received a total of 182 million tourists, up 52 percent year-on-year, official data showed. And, tourism revenue soared 111.42 percent to reach 189.69 billion yuan. 

Meanwhile, the harmonious lives of local residents and their longing for better lives - as witnessed by both domestic and foreign tourists - provide the best evidence debunking disinformation from the West.

Judy Mak, a lawyer from Malaysia, has just finished a 13-day visit in Xinjiang together with her friends. Starting from Urumqi, she toured the south of Xinjiang, and visited cities including Kashi, Hotan and Tashkurgan. 

"It was my first time visiting Xinjiang," she told the Global Times in Hotan. "Prior to my visit here, I did some research on Xinjiang and came to realize that some Western media outlets portray Xinjiang in a very negative light, which is untrue."

"In actual fact, Xinjiang is a melting pot of many different cultures and blessed with great exotic landscapes, which everyone should come and see for themselves," she said.