Thursday, May 29, 2014

PRC: Xinjiang Considers Compensating Tourists 500 Yuan Each to Revive Tourism

According to The South China Morning Post and Reuters, officials in Xinjiang are considering offering each tourist 500 yuan (HK$630) as part of an effort to revive the region's flagging tourism industry, state media has reported.

Regional authorities are seeking to project an image of stability following a series of violent attacks. On Tuesday (May 27), dozens of people were sentenced in a large rally held in a stadium in a city near the Kazakhstan border.

Tourist volume has fallen off by 40% since last year, China Radio International reported.

"Many tourists went skiing and skating in Xinjiang during the winter, but since the deadly knife attack in Kunming in March 2014, many have postponed their tour to Xinjiang," the region's tourism chief, Inam Nesirdin, was quoted as saying. 

In a display reminiscent of the mainland's revolutionary-era rallies, 55 people were sentenced for crimes including terrorism, separatism and murder before a crowd of 7,000 at a sports stadium in Yining, state media reported.

Photographs showed packed stadium stands and trucks parked on the field loaded with prisoners in orange vests, guarded by armed police.

COMMENT: The sentencing comes after courts in the region jailed 39 people last week on charges including leading and organizing terrorism groups.

Thirty-nine people were killed when attackers drove two off-road vehicles into crowds and tossed explosives at an open air market in the regional capital of Urumqi last week.

A bomb and knife attack at the end of April at the main railway station in Urumqi killed one bystander and wounded 79 people. Two assailants also died.

The attack in Kunming in March 2014, which the authorities have blamed on separatists from Xinjiang, killed 29 people.

Regional tourist chief Nesirdin said tourists in Xinjiang should be allowed to easily visit the region's neighboring countries.

Unlike Yunnan province and Guangxi, where domestic tourists can apply for visas to Vietnam, Xinjiang has kept its borders closed.

The vast autonomous region had been attracting a large number of visitors before the spate of violent attacks on the Mainland.

Over the Lunar New Year holiday, more than a million tourists flocked to the region, Xinhua reported in February 2014.

More than 1.5 million jobs were in tourism-related industries in the region at the end of last year, according to Xinhua.