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December 18, 2010

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New tourist magnet in 'Oriental Venice'

Shanghai's scenic Fengxian District on Hangzhou Bay is attracting more and more tourists and developing its coastal economy with a yachting industry hub, a theme park and a new city. Tan Weiyun reads the blueprints.

Fengxian District is forging ahead to become a major tourism destination in the next five years. A new city, a mega marine theme park and a yacht industry hub are planned for the "Oriental Venice."

The district has already made a name for itself as a tourist magnet over the past five years. The district tourism bureau reports 4.5 million visitors last year, more than doubled over 2006. Tourism revenue in 2009 totaled 2.2 billion yuan (US$326 million), a jump of 151 percent over 2006.

Lying to the south of Shanghai on Hangzhou Bay, the district contains the city's biggest forest park, clear seawater with high visibility, pure air and vast stretches of farmland. The land is golden yellow with ripe wheat in autum, and green and yellow with vegetables and flowers in spring.

The annual rape flower festival, seashore kite flying fetes and summer beach gala lure a steady flow of visitors from city centers on weekends and natinoal holidays.

The district is improving its public facilities. Construction recently began on the extension of Metro Line 5 and tourism bus lines are at the top of the government's agenda for next years.

An information network, medical stations for visitors and shopping centers are being built. The new Fengxian Tourism Information Center will soon go into full operation.

By 2015, around 6.35 million visitors are expected every year and total annual tourism revenue is projected to reach 7 billion yuan, accounting for 1.4 percent of the city's total tourism revenue of 500 billion yuan, according to the Shanghai Tourism Administration.

Having a coastline of more than 30 kilometers, Fengxian is rapdily developing its beach economy to grab significant market share in the Hangzhou Bay region.

The eastern part of the seashore will become a mega marine theme park featuring a children's zone, yacht clubs, seaside resorts, coastal villas, an art park and a shopping mall. It will feature an indoor beach, which will be constructed next year. The 1.8-billion-yuan project will cover around 20 hectares of seawater area.

It will house what is expected to be Asia's largest indoor sea-themed entertainment area, the world's largest water screen, a surfing zone, an exhibition hall of man-made stalactite art and an ocean exploration park.

The western part of the beach will be turned into a carnival of fine food and local folk art, featuring shops, workshops and a folk art museum. The southern dock will feature works of various artists and collectors.

The nearby East Sea Buddha Temple is under renovation and is expected to become a pilgrimmage site.


By 2015 Fengxian District expects to become China's largest yachting industry center, a 1.12-billion-yuan project covering more than 162 hectares in Haiwan Town. Of that, 132 hectares will be seawater area, providing 1,200 berths and 30,000 square meters for yacht club facilities.

The project is expected to be completed in four years, creating what promoters call an "Oriental Venice."

In 2006, the China State Shipbuilding Corp teamed up with the district to set up China's first yacht manufacturing center for both domestic and overseas buyers. The 15-billion-yuan project is expected to be completed soon and put into operation.

A host of yacht clubs, yacht making and equipment factories have signed contracts, many of them in August.

The district is the city's first to contain a complete yacht industrial chain, including building, sales, rental, repair, display, and research and development. It is supported by bonded warehouses and adequate berths.

By 2015 a new city township - Nanqiao City - will rise in the northern part of Hangzhou Bay, serving as a hub in the Yangtze River Delta and an important link to the Pudong New Area and Zhejiang Province.

The new city is expected to cover almost 72 square kilometers and become home to 750,000 to 1 million residents. A lake will be built in the city center, surrounded by green belts and woods. Yacht docks will be built.

A low-carbon life is part of the plan, and free bike rentals will be provided to residents. Around half the locals are expected to travel largely by bike or on foot in the new city.

The Haiwan Tourism Zone on Hangzhou Bay features a beautiful coastline with sandy beaches, quaint villages, scenic views and traditional folk culture. Here are a few destinations:

Urban Vegetable Garden

Address: 1518 Xinghuo Rd, Haiwan Town

As the city's organic fruit and vegetable theme park, the garden features more than 200 types of fruits and vegetables - local and exotic, common and rare, some with very odd shapes.

Kite Flying Square

Address: On the beach

The 200,000-square-meter venue is one of the biggest kite-flying sites in southern China. Established in the 1990s, the square has been the site of more than 10 annual national and international kite competitions, attracting a steady flow of professionals and amateurs.

Museum of Peking Opera Costumes

Address: On the beach, Longteng Pavilion

One of China's famous Peking Opera artists, 81-year-old Bao Wanrong has collected, designed and made more than 2,000 Peking Opera costumes and ornaments of all kinds. His museum is considered one of China's top 10 private museums.

East Sea Guanyin Temple

Address: 999 Jinhuitang Rd

Built in the late Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the temple was dedicated to Guanyin, goddess of mercy, who was believed to bless and protect fishermen and other locals. Though not large, the 700-year-old shrine facing the East China Sea is frequented by fishermen.

Century Forest

Address: Beside the beach

One of Shanghai's five forests, the 54-hectare wood contains camphor, pine and mulberry trees and more than 10 types of rare bamboo. Fruit trees include jujube, orange and persimmon.


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