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Pacific Asia Watch
Unseen Beauty, Unforgettable Hangzhou

One of China’s Most Important Cities Encompassing Rich Culture, History and Stunning Natural Landscapes to Promote Tourism to International Markets

In an unprecedented move to allow international tourists to travel freely throughout the city, Hangzhou, capital of the Zhejiang Province in China, has facilitated an “open door policy” and has launched a new campaign to promote tourism to more than a dozen countries around the world, including the United States, according to Li Hong, director of Hangzhou Tourism Commission.

Hangzhou is the first mainland city in China to implement an internationalization strategy of its tourism industry. Li Hong explained, “The goal is not only to attract more international tourists and increase our foreign exchange earnings from overseas visitors. It will also boost the capacity and status of our industry so that we may provide an even better product.”

Hangzhou’s marketing strategy encompasses 20 big action plans and 77 smaller projects. These include: an outdoor campaign in several international core cities with buses and taxis extolling the central theme and slogan “Unseen Beauty, Unforgettable Hangzhou”; promoting Hangzhou cuisine and Chinese medical tourism and developing its meeting and convention facilities. In addition, tourist reception centers are being set up around the city.

Hangzhou is one of the six oldest capitals in China and at the core of the world’s sixth largest economic center – the Yangtze River Delta. Offering 5,000 years of rich culture, it became the city of Chinese civilization in 221 BC. When Marco Polo visited 800 years ago, he declared it the finest and most splendid city in the world.

The city is located on West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Grand Canal, the world’s oldest and longest canal, begins at Hangzhou and ends at Beijing. There are 132 heritage sites in the Grand Canal, seven of which are in Hangzhou. Fine porcelain, silk, and tea all have rich histories in Hangzhou and tourists may visit museums dedicated to the culture of each and how it has impacted civilization.

Almost eight million people reside in Hangzhou and in 2009, there were 63 million visitors; five percent of which were from outside China. Currently, the average tourist spending is half of the international average, with duration of stay also lagging behind cities both inside and outside of China.

China is expected to surpass France as the largest tourist destination by 2015 and Hong believes that the pace of internationalization throughout the whole country needs to speed up in order to meet the demands of incoming tourists.

About Hangzhou:

Hangzhou is in a pure natural landscape on West Lake surrounded on three sides by hills. The lake, a fusion of culture and nature, has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. Ten scenic sites have been given poetic names such as Autumn Moon, Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds, etc. There are two causeways and three islands with gorgeous pagodas, pavilions, lush gardens and historic temples. Hangzhou is the political, historical and cultural center of Zhejiang Province on the southeast coast of China, only 45 minutes from Shanghai on the bullet train. For getting around the city, bicycles are an important and healthy means of transportation and may be rented by the hour.

What to Do:
Many museums celebrate the culture and history of Hangzhou, including the ancient culture of Liangzhu, with 50 recently unearthed archeological sites. Hangzhou is China’s tea capital where Longjing tea, the most famous variety, is produced. The Lingyin Temples is one of the world’s most important temples with over 400 carvings cut into limestone. A number of internationally acclaimed festivals occur here including the Dragon Festival, an annual boat race said to be lucky for those who watch it.

Where to Stay:

Hangzhou has many hotels of different categories from five-star to budget, including internationally-known chains. Recent openings: Shangri-La, overlooking West Lake; Banyan Tree, located in the world’s first wetland reserve; Aman, close to spectacular Buddhist Temples; and the Four Seasons, located on the bank of West Lake, with beautifully-landscaped gardens.

When to Go:

There is much to do here all year round but spring is when the city really comes alive as parks and gardens burst with blooming plants and trees and bicyclists are everywhere.
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