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Would-be travelers to China can expect to see the city of Hangzhou appearing with more frequency on their radar. Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province in China, has facilitated a marketing strategy that encompasses 27 action plans and projects. These include an outdoor campaign in several international core cities with buses and taxis extolling the central theme and slogan “Unseen Beauty, Unforgettable Hangzhou.” The campaign will promote Hangzhou cuisine and Chinese medical tourism as well as the city’s meeting and convention facilities. In addition, tourist reception centers are being set up around the city.
Hangzhou is one of the six oldest capitals in China and is located at the core of the world’s sixth largest economic center — the Yangtze River Delta. Offering 5,000 years of culture, it became the seat of Chinese civilization in 221 B.C. When Marco Polo visited 800 years ago, he declared Hangzhou the finest and most splendid city in the world. Today, almost eight million people reside in Hangzhou. In 2009, the city received 63 million visitors. Only five percent of these were from outside China, so it’s clear that Hangzhou has room to improve when it comes to raising its profile with foreign travelers. 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 the first mainland city in China to implement an internationalization strategy of its tourism industry,” said Li Hong, director of Hangzhou Tourism Commission. “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.”
The city is located on West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Grand Canal, one of the world’s oldest and longest canals, begins at Hangzhou and ends at Beijing. There are 132 heritage sites in the Grand Canal, seven of which are in Hangzhou. The city has two causeways and three islands with attractive pagodas, pavilions, temples and gardens
Hangzhou is 45 minutes from Shanghai on the bullet train. The city has a range of hotels of different categories from five-star to budget, including internationally-known chains. Recent openings include Shangri-La Hotel, Hangzhou, overlooking West Lake; Banyan Tree Hangzhou, located in a wetland reserve; Amanfayun, an Aman property close to Buddhist temples; and the Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou, located on the bank of West Lake.