Enid Schildkrout visited the grasslands in the northern part of Xinjiang
Uygur Autonomous Region, northwest China, she described her tour of the
region, which is situated along the ancient "Silk Road", as
It is a very interesting journey, said Schildkrout, chair and curator
of the Anthropology Division of the American Museum of Nature History
of New York City, adding she had seen the most beautiful scenery in Xinjiang.
She watched horse-racing and other performances with typical ethnic flavor
during her travels.
Schildkrout said what has impressed her was that everything was well
organized and she truly felt the relaxing and carefree lives of local
Covering one-sixth of China's total land area, Xinjiang is best known
for its situation along the "Silk Road", the well-known ancient
trade route linking China and central Asia. It also has many well-known
tourist attractions including relics of ancient cities, unique natural
scenic reserves and people from ethnic groups with colorful cultures.
Sajjad Shah, a Japanese visitor, said until he came to Xinjiang he was
always looking for a place of mystery and magic, but now he has found
Xinjiang could become one of the major tourist destinations in Asia,
because it has rich resources for tourism and good tourist facilities,
said Sajjad Shah, a wholesaler from the COX & KINGS company, a travel
agency in Japan. The travel agency was set up in1758 and takes tourists
to many countries and regions around the world.
Tourism, a pillar industry of Xinjiang
has officially begun a campaign to make tourism one of its key industries
over the next 10 years.
According to predictions, tourism in the region is expected to make up
10 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010, a record high,
said Zhang Zhou, vice-chairman of the regional government.
Last year, the region's GDP totaled 148.5 billion yuan (17.5 billion
US dollars), and tourism industry contributed 5 percent of this.
Around 8.5 million domestic tourists visited Xinjiang last year,bringing
a total of 7.18 billion yuan (867.1 million US dollars) in tourism revenue,
while 273,000 overseas tourists visited, 44.5 percent more than five years
ago, according to statistics from the region's tourism bureau.
A recent tourism festival in the region, co-hosted by the National Tourism
Administration and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Government, attracted
about 3,000 visitors and more than 200 travel agencies from home and abroad.
Participants used words like "incomparable", "typical"
and "something that has been long dreamed of" to describe Xinjiang's
natural scenery, local conditions and customs.
Phuthorn from Thailand said he had never seen any natural scenery as
splendid as Taklimakan, the largest shifting desert in China and the second
largest in the world. He said he was startled to see so many poplar trees
growing in such dry areas.
Phuthorn said there are many experts in Thailand studying the oasis culture
along the "Silk Road", and he would introduce them to Xinjiang
in the future.
Wang Jinxiang, the region's vice-chairman in charge of local economic
work, said the region is intensifying its efforts to build a tourism infrastructure,
protect the local environment and improve services in the tertiary sector.
doing so, Xinjiang aims to build a "paradise" for visitors,
Statistics show that during the 1996-2000 period, the Chinese government
injected 4 billion yuan (481 million US dollars) into building tourism
infrastructure and construction at scenic spots. Last year, the regional
government poured more than 1 billion yuan(120 million US dollars) into
the development of local tourism.