HANGZHOU, China – 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 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 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 set up around the city.
Hangzhou is one of the six oldest capitals in China. Offering 5000 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, and is surrounded by hills. The lake with three islands and two causeways, has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. The Grand Canal, the world’s oldest and longest canal, begins at Hangzhou and ends at Beijing. There are seven heritage sites on the Grand Canal in Hangzhou. Fine porcelain, silk, and tea all have rich histories in Hangzhou with museums dedicated to how each has impacted civilization.
Almost eight million people reside in Hangzhou and in 2012, there were 80 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. Hangzhou is only 45 minutes from Shanghai on the bullet train.