TRAVEL GAZETTE – Kashgar, where sporadic terrorist attacks have dampened tourism since 2009, saw a surge in tourists in the first half of this year.
Kashgar, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, received 1.14 million tourists and reaped tourism revenues of 650 million yuan (97 million U.S. dollars) in the first half of 2016, up 38 percent and 23 percent year on year respectively, the Kashgar municipal tourism bureau announced on Tuesday.
The city, renowned for its ancient mud-brick architecture, received 18,032 foreign tourists in the first six months.
Tom Chambers, an English teacher in Karamay, an oil city in northern Xinjiang, was one of them.
“Xinjiang is much safer than many British people have thought,” said Chambers, who will stay in Kashgar for a month before heading back to London.
Ma Chunshan, a 70-year-old from Beijing, spent 56 days driving all the way to Kashgar with his wife.
“We just wanted to have a look around Xinjiang. It feels great,” said Ma.
The number of tourists arriving in Kashgar increased remarkably this year compared with the past two years, although it is still less than seven years ago, said Chen Liang, who opened a youth hostel in the city eight years ago.
More than half the population of remote Xinjiang are Muslim. Violence in the name of “jihad” has been increasing since 2009 and represents the biggest threat to the region.