Zhang Huijuan, General Manager of the domestic travel department of CYTS Tours Guangdong Railway Co., Ltd., discusses the changes in the region's tourism industry since the opening of the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway at a meeting with reporters in Guangzhou on Thursday, October 21, 2010. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com / Zhang Jin]
by Zhang Jin
The Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway, which opened last December 26, has greatly boosted the tourism industry in the provinces through which it passes.
The railway, which crosses central China's Hubei and Hunan provinces and southern China's Guangdong Province, has slashed the previous travel time between Wuhan and Guangzhou from 10 and a half hours to just three on trains that can travel up to 350 kilometers per hour.
The much shorter travel time has attracted many visitors to the region.
Qiu Han, a tourist who was heading to Hunan with her colleagues to visit Hengshan Mountain, one of the most famous mountains in China and the hometown of Chairman Mao Zedong, took the new train for the first time and said its high speed helped to save time.
"It used to take three to four days to visit Hunan from Guangzhou when we could only take old trains," Qiu said. "Now we can finish the whole journey within two days."
The high-speed rail service's comfortable, smooth ride, more convenient facilities and better service also have contributed to an increase in the number of tourists traveling to the area.
Zhang Huijuan, General Manager of the domestic travel department at CYTS Tours Guangdong Railway Co., Ltd. (GR CYTS), said the revenue from domestic tourist groups traveling with her company to Hubei and Hunan has increased by about 700 percent since the high-speed railway went into operation.
The high-speed railway has also strengthened the cooperation between travel agencies in different places, Zhang said.
"We have interacted a lot with travel agencies in Hubei and Hunan since the opening of the high-speed railway," she said. "We arrange for visitors to go to tourism sites there, and they also send tourists to Guangdong and even to Hong Kong and Macao afterwards."
The cooperation has greatly increased the income of the tourism industry in the three provinces, Zhang said.
Some travel agencies have created new itineraries that combine traditional tourist sites with new ones or those that used to be too far to reach to attract more visitors from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao.
The number of foreign visitors to the region has increased as well. More than 10,000 foreigners have traveled with the overseas department of GR CYTS since the opening of the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway.
The increase in the number of overall tourists has served as a test for travel agencies to ensure they can adequately handle even larger groups during peak travel seasons.
"In March when a great number of visitors appreciated the cherry blossoms in Wuhan, the quantities of hotels, tour buses and guides were not enough sometimes," Zhang said.
She added that she was confident that the situation would improve after the adaptation period during the early stage of the high-speed railway.
The upcoming Guangzhou Asian Games in November is expected to draw a new wave of visitors to the city and nearby areas via high-speed rail.1 2