South Guangxi looks to the sea to boost local tourism and shopping tourism

A view of Playa Plata, in Beihai, an important coastal resort in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The southern coastal area in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region faces the sea, and as part of the La Franja y La Ruta initiative, it seeks to make even greater use of local tourist resources.

Photo: Kees Streefkerk
Photo: Kees Streefkerk

The area consists of six cities–including Fangchenggang, Qinzhou and Beihai. Since 2016, it presents itself as the Beibu Bay International Tourist Station. The complex stands out for the characteristics of the coastal cities and insists on differentiated development among the cities.

By linking the sea and the land, and China and Vietnam – a country bordering Guangxi – the objective is to develop tourist products related to the sea that involve a better use of coastal benefits, both vacation and health.

According to data presented by the regional government, in 2018 the number of visits to the complex reached 324 million people, an increase of 28.1 percent over 2017, while revenues grew by 33.2 percent to 344,060 billion renminbi (51.08 billion U.S. dollars) during the same period.

Next to Beihai Silver Beach, which welcomes many domestic and foreign tourists, is currently under construction Crowne Plaza Beihai Silver Beach Hotel, five stars. Its manager Tang Xinqian predicts a promising future.

Tang said the demand for accommodation in Beihai still needs to be met, as potential visitors from mountain cities like Chongqing and Sichuan would like to go to Beihai for a coastal tour, and those in northeastern cities with cold winters would also be very likely to select Beihai to escape the harsh climate.

Beihai has bet big on high-end products for coastal tourism and shopping. Yunfei, deputy director of Beihai’s Bureau of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the city has received investment in tourism infrastructure, thematic entertainment projects, high-end hotels, health-related industries and airlines, among other sectors.

“Coastal tourism is always in the high-end trend. If Beihai wants to explore the new blue sea, she must have a plan for high-end products,” he stressed.

In the context of the La Franja and La Ruta initiative, in a southern county in southern Guangxi, the historical status of the area as one of the departure ports for the Maritime Silk Road during the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) not only makes this coastal city more well-known, but also increases local tourism.

“Carrying gold and silk, the fleets of the Han dynasty set sail from the port of Hepu to trade with countries in Southeast and South Asia. And even India and Sri Lanka for the exchange of goods for pearls, crystals, agate and amber,” said Lian Shiming, curator of the Hepu Museum on the Han Dynasty. The valuable maritime cultural heritage could benefit the county and also promote tourism in Hepu.

A cultural and coastal tourism project began construction April 19 in Hepu, Beihai City, and is based on the local history of the area related to the Han Dynasty, the Maritime Silk Road and the Hepu pearls. With a total investment of 2.08 billion renminbi, the 25.53-hectare project aims to build a cultural, recreational and ecological tourist destination in the area.

Liu Minkun, deputy director of the Guangxi University Business School and a tourism expert, stressed that today Hepu is working to harness its resources in heritage and culture, and make them more visible to attract more visitors.

“The international tourist complex of Beibu Bay has great potential to become a popular coastal tourism destination inside and outside China,” said Gan Lin, director of the Guangxi Department of Culture and Tourism.

“The complex will develop as a coastal tourism destination for the provinces, including Yunnan and Guizhou, and may gain market share in other countries – such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, South Asian countries and Europe,” Gan said. He added that Guangxi will further promote inbound tourism by providing more convenient policies in terms of inbound and outbound management and tax refunds on purchases for foreign tourists.

Online Village
By Tan Xinyu and Shi Ruipeng