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February 17, 2011

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City's vision to become tourism hub

SHANGHAI has pledged to build itself into an international tourism city over the next five years by developing more tourism attractions, providing incentives for inbound travelers and giving financial support to encourage locals to travel out of the city, said the Shanghai -government yesterday.

The city is planning to develop wide-ranging tourist attractions to meet the needs and wants of people from different cultural backgrounds and spending brackets.

Downtown districts will create international shopping centers, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) destinations and sightseeing centers. Fashion and tradition will combine to display Shanghai's special regional culture to tourists, officials said.

In the suburbs, ecological tours, industrial tours, theme parks and beach resorts will be among the top attractions. Water travel packages will also be developed on the Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek, including night skyline trips, cruise ship tours and water sports.

"Disneyland (theme park) and the second phase of Happy Valley will be the two important construction projects in the next few years," said Vice Mayor Zhao Wen.

Meanwhile, new policies will be studied to support the tourism market's development in the city within the next five years.

The city government will continue to work on a feasibility study on tax rebates for overseas tourists. Tax rebates were piloted in the Pudong New Area in 2005, but the State Council didn't give permanent approval for the policy.

Local tourism authorities, however, believe that tax rebates are essential for attracting more inbound tourists who wish to shop in the city, officials said, adding that they will continue to investigate the issue.

The incentives for local tourists will include installment payments on outbound travel. Travel agencies said the idea first surfaced around 2002. At present, some banks are already providing such a service, where people can pay on a monthly basis if they buy an outbound travel package. However, the service is not widely promoted or known among people in the city.

Therefore, the city will encourage cooperation between travel agencies and banks, promoting more installment payment packages for people who cannot afford to pay large sums in one go for the costs of packages.

Banks will also be encouraged to -provide credit cards and traveler's checks, -especially for tourists coming to -Shanghai, -officials said.


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