Highway fuels tourism industry and promotes various ethnic groups' cultures
The Xibe Ancient Town, a tourist attraction in Xinjiang's Qapqal Xibe autonomous county, welcomed more than two million visitors in 2020. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
The Lianyungang-Khorgos Expressway, running from East China's Jiangsu province to Khorgos in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, not only boosts economic and trade collaboration among cities alongside it, but also helps to culturally revive the ancient Silk Road.
Totaling 4,395 kilometers, the expressway links many cultural heritage sites and scenic spots across the country, such as the 3,300-year-old Yinxu Ruins and the Longmen Grottoes in Henan province, Emperor Qinshihuang's mausoleum site that dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), the Weiyang Palace in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-AD 24) and the Tang Dynasty (618-907) Daming Palace in Shanxi province, the Qicai Danxia Scenic Area in Gansu province as well as the Turpan Basin and Sayram Lake in Xinjiang.
It serves as the artery of Xinjiang's highway network, helping to fuel the development of its tourism industry and promote the cultures of various ethnic groups.
The Qapqal Xibe autonomous county, located in the west of the region, is a place where the traditional crafts and customs of the Xibe people are well preserved and passed down from generation to generation.
The county has witnessed growing number of tourists in recent years, and the crisscross highway network has played an important role. The number increased from 523,000 in 2014 to 2.61 million in 2020. Urumqi, Karamay, Kuitun and other cities in Xinjiang are among the biggest sources of tourists. And tourists from outside the region are mainly from East China's Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, according to Wu Qiang, CEO of the Qapqal Culture and Tourism Group Co.
Sun Qi, deputy head of the county's culture and tourism bureau, pointed out that the expressway has strongly driven the development of the tourism industry in the county as it enables and attracts more people from some provinces in East China, Central China and Northwest China to have self-driving trips to Xinjiang.
"Gas stations, toilets and other conveniences set up along the expressway provide tourists favorable conditions touring in the region," she added.
The Xibe Ancient Town, where visitors can enjoy delicacies and dancing performances of Xibe people, appreciate their traditional craft of making bows and arrows and try on ethnic garments featuring exquisite embroidery patterns, is a main scenic spot in the county.
They can also experience the traditional Xiqian festival celebrations, wedding ceremonies and other customs of Xibe people in the town.
The county has invested 960 million yuan to build up the cultural attraction that not only display the traditional culture of the Xibe ethnic group, but also the culture of the Han and Uygur ethnic groups. Entering the town is like unfolding a long roll chronicling the history of integration and collaborative development of different ethnic groups.
Sun said that this helps to promote Xibe Ancient Town and other tourist attractions in and around Qapqal Xibe autonomous county, making it a popular destination for self-driving travelers.
Zhangye city in Gansu province has also attracted a growing number of self-driving travelers from cities and provinces across the country to see the colorful Danxia landform since the expressway opened to traffic in 2014. The number of self-driving travelers heading to Zhangye increased from 300,000 in 2013 to nearly two million in 2019. Even last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country and limited travel, Zhangye still attracted around 1.4 million self-driving tourists.
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