Not all of China is aiming to benefit from Beijing Olympics


Not all of China is banking on this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing. This is what tourism officials from Hangzhou, a progressive and prominent Chinese tourist city, said during the city’s recent unveiling at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) held last week in Dubai at the Dubai International Convention Center.

The Hangzhou Tourism Commission is the first Chinese government tourism office ever to have showcased at the Arabian travel fair and to have actively promoted its attractions to the Middle East, following the recent visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.

Dubbed the Oriental Capital of Leisure, Hangzhou is a modern, diversified city offering numerous business opportunities to the Middle Eastern travelers. The city is working on enhancing bilateral trade relations with Dubai, said Li Hong, director of Hangzhou Tourism Commission.

“It’s a time-honored cultural city famous for its tea, silk and beautiful scenery,” he said. The city, boasting a history of 8000 years, is blessed with ancient gardens, pavilions, pagodas, springs and grottos, while the West Lake Xiang Lake, Grand Canal and Thousand Island Lake all add to its natural beauty. Located in the Yangtze River, Hangzhou has been named as China’s most beautiful city after having been awarded as China’s best tourism city in February 2007 by the China Tourism Administration and the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Hangzhou is the capital of the province of Zhejiang and the central city on the southern side of the Yangtze River delta, the sixth metropolitan city in the world. Only 150 kilometers of distance separate Shanghai from Hangzhou.

The popularity of Hangzhou goes in line with China’s increasing buzz in world tourism, being a fast-becoming tourism hotspot opening up to millions of visitors year to year. In 2007, China received more than 132 million international guests, which is an increase of over five percent over the previous year, said Gao Yusheng, ambassador of China to the Emirates.

Hangzhou Vice-Mayor Zhang Jianting said that the Dubai show is an excellent showcase for Hangzhou as the emirate becomes a booming international city in the Middle East craving a high quality lifestyle. “In 2007, Hangzhou’s domestic tourism grew to 4.11 million; international tourism to 2.08 million. The city has also been recognized as the only Golden City of International Tourism and one of the top ten leisure cities of China. For years, it also held the title of the happiest city in China, the UN’s best human rights award, International Garden City Award and best in sanitation and public safety and security,” he said, adding that the accolades have made the city a place for quality living in the country.

“Exchanges and cooperation between Dubai and Hangzhou can be traced back to the height of the Silk Route. The Middle East has long served as the link between Europe and China. The city of Hangzhou, serving as the capital city of the southern Song Dynasty, prospered by paving a new commercial path from the South China Sea via the Arabian Sea to the east coast of Africa. I am convinced our presence here can give impetus to the existing cooperation between our two cities,” said Hangzhou Secretary-General Wang Guoping, referring to the close ties Hangzhou and Dubai will enjoy in further boosting a boom in prosperity for their mutual benefit.