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Natural Attractions / Trip Ideas

Yunnan: Maritime Silk Road brings new opportunities to tourism development

By Xinzhu Xiao

May 19

Featuring a gorgeous landscape and diverse ethnic culture, China’s southwest Yunnan Province has become the number one destination for domestic and foreign travellers, according to leading online travel agency Ctrip.

Featuring a gorgeous landscape and diverse ethnic culture, China’s southwest Yunnan Province has become the number one destination for domestic and foreign travellers, according to leading online travel agency Ctrip.

Minority culture diversity

Home to half of China’s minorities, Yunnan boasts the largest population of ethnic groups, with 25 having more than 5000 members, 16 among them indigenous (including the Bai, Dai, Naxi, Hani, Lisu, Lahu, Wa, Jingpo, Bulang, Pumi, Achang, Nu, Jinuo, De’ang, Durung, etc.).

Water Splashing Festival at Xishuangbanna Dai Minority Park. [Image Credit: China.org.cn/Ming Li]
Among the 25 ethnic minorities, the biggest population is the Yi (彝族) and the smallest is the Dulong (独龙族). Diverse ethnic communities are spread across Yunnan in tight clusters or expanded groups.

Traditional customs, cultures, languages, construction styles and clothes are all distinctive in Yunnan. To experience the vibrancy of the ethic people there, few occasions are better than their long-standing, exotic festivals.

Significant “frontier” position     

Situated in the marginal regions of inland China, Yunnan is in a “frontier” position on the Maritime Silk Road. Under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, it serves as a bridge to Southeast and South Asia. The province is dedicated to promoting tourism as a way to facilitate economic development and cultural sustainability.

Since 2014, the Yunnan government has aggressively invested in infrastructure to fully tap the region’s tourism potential. With an expanding network of highways, train lines and airports, tourism is booming.

Nanning–Kunming High-Speed Railway [Image Credit: China.org.cn/Xin Fang]
Besides, local authorities introduced 22 “strictest ever” measures to clean up the local tourism industry on April 15 this year. The measures target fraud and coerced shopping among other sources of tourist complaints.

Worldwide promotion

Xishuangbannan Wild Elephant Valley [Image Credit:China.org.cn/Jie Zi]
In 2016, Chinese tourist visits to Yunnan rose 32 percent to 425 million, according to China National Tourism Administration. At the same time, overseas tourists paid 6 million visits to the region in 2016, up 5.31 percent year-on-year.

Since foreigners make up only a small proportion of Yunnan visitors, local and central governments have been promoting the province as a international destination.

In January this year, the Yunnan Tourism Development Committee held promotional events in Australia and New Zealand. More similar events will be held during this year.

Yunnan officials have pledged to build two to three border tourism pilot areas and one-cross border tourism cooperation pilot zone in 2017. The province will also seek to establish tourism alliances with cities along the Mekong River.

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