Provinces in East China are ramping up efforts to attract inbound tourists in the wake of normal cross-border travel resuming.
A group of 18 tourists from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region arrived at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Wednesday evening.
It was the first tour group from Hong Kong to Zhejiang since the Feb 6 resumption of normal travel between the Chinese mainland and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
"The last time I was in Hangzhou was in 2003," said 74-year-old Wong Shuk-yee, a veteran actress in the group.
Wong was doing film work at Hengdian World Studios in Jinhua and had one week off to travel around a couple of cities, including Hangzhou.
"I am very excited and looking forward to it," she said of the trip. "I expect to take this opportunity to learn more about Hangzhou, especially West Lake, and try the authentic Dongpo pork and other specialties."
Over the next five days and four nights, the group will go to various tourist attractions, including West Lake, Lingyin Temple and the newly restored Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) Deshou Palace in Hangzhou. The tourists will then visit other places in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.
The arrival of the group marks the revival of inbound tourism in Hangzhou, Zhejiang and the vast East China region, said He Junmin, an official with the Hangzhou bureau of culture, radio, TV and tourism at a reception ceremony on Wednesday night.
"We hope they will have an unforgettable journey," said He, who was part of the reception group at the airport.
The city will spare no effort in helping with the recovery of the tourism industry and spurring consumption, he added.
Recently, local authorities have introduced a raft of measures to encourage travel and spending.
For instance, Hangzhou's Shangcheng district, where Deshou Palace is located, rolled out a 28-point policy package in early January offering free admission to all attractions in the first quarter.
Travel agencies will be given up to 300,000 yuan ($43,800) if they can attract tour groups to the district and use its hotels.
More visitors from Hong Kong have visited the mainland after Feb 6 including 23 tourists who arrived in Qingdao of Shandong on Monday for a five-day tour as the province's first inbound tourist group.
The provincial capital Jinan also plans to resume inbound tourism and increase its efforts to attract tourists from home and abroad, Su Wen, deputy head of the Jinan bureau of culture and tourism, said on Tuesday, adding that it will host a series of activities to attract tourists and provide subsidies to boost local tourism.
Shandong has also unveiled a package of measures to invigorate inbound tourism. For example, it will arrange 10 million yuan to subsidize tourism-related sectors, including chartering a plane, taking a cruise and organizing field-research tours to the province.
It will also set aside 20 million yuan to support tourism promotion in overseas markets.