When an unexpected pandemic slowed down the development of many tourist cities at home and abroad, Zhangjiajie, however, as one of them, has found ways to overcome difficulties and achieved great results due to its advantage of turning external pressure into an internal development impetus.
The fifth session of the Seventh People’s Congress of Zhangjiajie was held last weekend and the word “tourism” was mentioned 91 times in the city’s government work report.
Zhangjiajie seems to be inspired to continue its development under the regular prevention and control of the COVID-19. It has set several goals for the 14th Five-Year Plan period in the next five years, which are an average annual growth rate of more than 7.5% of regional GDP, 120 million tourists per year and a total tourism revenue of 120 billion yuan per year. What’s more, it will have two AAAAA national tourist attractions rated and strives to make the per capita GDP reach the average level of Hunan province in 2035, and become a more well-known tourist destination at home and abroad. This is Zhangjiajie’s ambition, and is also a brand-new start for its development.
Zhangjiajie has developed tourism along with other industries according to the report. The new industrial pattern of tourism-led, multi-industry cooperation and diversified development may be its secret of remaining vigorous and standing out among similar cities after the epidemic.
Recovery after dropping dramatically
Tourism is often regarded as a fragile industry due to its vulnerability to unexpected disasters, severe weather and other uncertain factors. However, Zhangjiajie’s tourism in 2020 has proved its vitality and resilience.
The tourism industry has suffered heavy losses throughout 2020 when the epidemic broke out early. As the business card of Hunan tourism, there were almost no international tourists or few domestic tourists who carefully took a conservative and wait-and-see attitude towards traveling, even if Zhangjiajie is one of the regions that best contained the epidemic in the country.
In the city’s tourism industry, the number of tourists, tourism revenue, and air passenger throughput all saw a sharp and year-on-year decline of 68%, 69%, and 63% respectively in the first quarter, according to data from the People’s Government of Zhangjiajie City.
Under the great pressure of the economy, Zhangjiajie started its revival in tourism industry. It began to expand the tourism chain, and integrated tourism into other industries. Zhangjiajie vigorously implemented the “310” plan for promoting the recovery, organized activities like the 1st Half Marathon, the 1st World Heritage Photography Exhibition, the 4th International Tourism Poetry Festival, the Second Front Red Army and the Long March Academic Seminar. It also actively promoted the integrated development of the Tourism Plus industry, designed the industrial layout of tourism, culture, health, and equipment manufacturing industry, and speeded up the introduction of special plans such as Zhangjiajie Internet Celebrity Economic Plan to get more awareness.
All the efforts finally paid off as the data showed that Zhangjiajie received 48.3 million tourists throughout the year and obtained a total tourism revenue of 55 billion yuan, respectively 60% and 60.7% of the previous year. It is the region with the fastest recovery speed among other similar scenic spots in the country. Zhangjiajie’s tourism recovery experience was promoted in China Regional Video Conference of Tourism Promotion Organization for Asia Pacific Cities in 2020 and it was selected as one of the top ten popular travel destinations in China.
Tourist revenue is expected to exceed 100 billion annually
Zhangjiajie gained confidence from the good recovery momentum and painted a blueprint for tourism development in this year’s government work report, as has been mentioned above, that Wulingyuan and Tianmen Mountain will join the world-class tourist attractions and resorts.
Zhangjiajie is expected to receive 81.620 million tourists and achieve a total tourism revenue of 99.085 billion yuan in 2021. It received 48.3 million tourists and earned 55 billion yuan in 2020. The goal is to double the 2020’s tourism revenue.
During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, Zhangjiajie plans to fully integrate into the domestic big cycle and the domestic and international dual circulation, strengthen cooperation with international tourism organizations, actively participate in the construction of domestic tourism market, and lead the construction of Zhangjiajie-Xiangxi-Huaihua’s boutique eco-cultural tourism economic belt, forming a higher level of dynamic balance between supply and demand. At the same time, it will strengthen the modern cultural industry, optimize tourism performances, create new performances, and build the Capital of Tourist Performing Art in China.
“Zhangjiajie will promote a batch of high-quality tourism development products. For example, we can transform and upgrade the core resources of Zhangjiajie, building Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon in the east line into a 5A national tourist attraction; deeply explore our ethnic cultural resources and build the Zhangjiajie section of the National Long March Park into a new tourism product,” said Guo Zhenggui, secretary of the CPC Zhangjiajie Municipal Committee.
Tourists used to visit the scenic spots during the day and did not have much entertainment at night, so they had to go back to the hotel and sleep early, which will be changed in the next five years. “We are now determined to create a number of consumption venues and blocks, such as 72 Floors of Mystery and Ancient Dayong City that allow tourists to participate in and experience night economy.” As a result, the seductive advertising slogan, “night travel in Zhangjiajie”, may appear on mobile phone screens and highway billboards.