Text: Žikica Milošević
Carefully mixing the high-tech advancements with the historical spirit, China is alluring millions of tourists, at the same time becoming the tourist-sender to other countries. This all changes the shape of China, a country that cannot be visited twice with the same impression – this is how quickly it changes
China was like North Korea up to 1974, with resticted tourism, when Deng took the leader’s position and changed that element too. The expansion of domestic and international airline traffic and other tourist transportation facilities made travel more convenient. Over 250 cities and counties had been opened to foreign visitors by the mid-1980s. Travelers needed only valid visas or residence permits to visit 100 locations; the remaining locales required travel permits from public security departments. In 1985 approximately 1.4 million foreigners visited China, and nearly US$1.3 billion was earned from tourism. In 2007 international tourist arrivals to China increased to 54.7 million. And it rises at the rate of some 5m more per year!
What to say about Chinese tourism in such a short overview? You have to visit China many times, for sure. The first glance is usually Beijing and its Forbidden City, The Great Wall, vibrant Shanghai with Pudong, The Bund and Maglev trains, Xian Terracota Army, Leshan Buddha statue, or the colourful rice fields from Yunnan. Sanya and its beaches host the Miss Universe ceremonies, while Tibet is quite another magic story. The lovers of the Old Slik Road will enjoy the tastes of Sinkyang and Kashgar. The Great Wall, or Chinese Wall as we call it here, is arguably the most important symbol of the country – as the greatest defense-structure project in the history of human civilisation, it dates back more than 2,000 years ago to the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods – huge in its scale and grandeur. There are more than ten sections of the Great Wall open to tourists, including the passes, blockhouses and beacon towers at Badaling in Beijing, Laolongtou in Hebei and Jiayuguan Pass in Gansu. Leshan Giant Buddha, carved into a cliff face. Seventy-one meters high and 28 meters wide, it is the largest sitting Buddha in stone, showing the carving skill of ancient craftsmen. It was made to stop the turbulent water from sinking ships, and indeed Buddha helped. Now the reddish stone statue is one of the most important religious symbols in the country. The glass bridges and distant monasteries are somehow for the bravest people among tourists. Tsingtao or Qingdao is a city with traditional German spirit as a former colony, and the eponymous beer is world famous. And what to say about the two special autonomous regions, Macau and Hong Kong? Former is strongly influences by Portuguese culture and now it is a major gambling destination, while the former British economic centre with its capital Victoria, is recognisable for its skyscrapers and junkas, as well its British buses. If you like kung-fu and Zen, Shaolin Temple is just for you. The most tourists come from South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Russia and the USA. Now that we don’t need visas for China, it is expected that we will join the flock. Well, China needs the full magazine special dedicated to its tourism, and this is merely a glance.