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Tourism to become key for Guangxi

By Li Yang (China Daily)

09:05, July 04, 2013

Officials aim to boost standard of living for millions under the national poverty line

Officials in Guangxi, an underdeveloped region in South China, vow to turn tourism into an engine of growth in 10 years, despite difficulties.

Peng Qinghua, Party chief of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, presided over the largest conference on tourism in the region's history from Wednesday to Thursday in Guilin, the region's top tourist destination.

There are 49 poor counties in Guangxi with about 7.9 million people living under the national poverty line, Peng said.

"But the beauty of the places they live in is beyond imagination," he said.

"Therefore developing tourism, a shortcut to improving their living standard and integrating them into the modern world, bears different meanings to Guangxi."

The average GDP per capita in Guangxi was $4,446 last year. International experience indicates that when the figure surpasses $5,000, the tourism industry will enter a robust growth stage, he said.

"It means Guangxi is just at the threshold of the stage and this prospect raises high and urgent requirements for the government to make use of Guangxi's natural, cultural and environmental resources."

The conference was attended by Shao Qiwei, chief of the National Tourism Administration and 500 executives of tourism agencies, tourism experts, and officials in Guangxi.

Guangxi, which covers about 230,000 square kilometers and has 50 million people of 14 ethnic groups, borders Vietnam to the south and meets the South China Sea with 1,596 kilometers of coastline. It is famous for its Karst landform with hundreds of rivers meandering through the endless mountains.

Guangxi has been a cultural, economic and military center in Southwest China since the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279) and boasts a number of places of historical interest, which are often eclipsed by picturesque landscape.

According to Cheng Jianjun, chief of the Guangxi tourism administration, Guangxi ranks eighth in the country in terms of the number of national-level tourist spots in China. But Guangxi ranks 18th in tourist numbers and its tourism revenue is only 20th among all provincial regions.

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