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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Beautiful spring scene - Wuyuan

Photos show the scenery of Wuyuan County in Jiangxi province in early spring.

Wuyuan is known for its idyllic landscape and abundant cultural relics. It is also an ideal place for people to slow down and wander among old homes and smell the flowers.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

China leapfrogs New Zealand as Australia's top tourist source

(Reuters) - China has leapfrogged New Zealand to become the top source country for travelers to Australia in the 12 months to February, Australian official data showed on Wednesday, as overall visitor numbers hit a record high.

Some 1.39 million Chinese visited Australia during the period, up 13.2 percent on the year prior and for the first time exceeding travelers from neighboring New Zealand, Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed.

There were 1.36 million visitors from New Zealand in the period.

Overall tourist arrivals rose to a record high of 8.9 million during the year to February, while tourism-related spending in the year to December reached a record A$41.3 billion ($32 billion).

"Tourism is generating income, wealth, jobs and economic activity across the economy," Ryan Felsman, a senior economist at CommSec said in a note, adding the industry accounted for 10 percent of Australia's exports.

Record numbers of tourists also visited Australia from the United States and India in the period.

Chinese visitors are particularly sought after because they tend to stay longer, and spend more than visitors from other countries.

China has been Australia's most valuable inbound tourism market since 2011. Over the past five years, Chinese visitor numbers have doubled, driving tourism earnings and spurring a boom in hotel development and record profits for airlines and travel agents.

"The Chinese traveler is evolving and the growing middle class in China are chasing new experiences," said Hianyang Chan, an industry analyst at research firm Euromonitor International.

"Australia is a preferred destination due to its vast landscape, pristine nature, good food, security and art and culture."

Australia's largest airline, Qantas, posted a record half-year profit in February as higher visitor numbers drove both international and domestic flying.

Its main rival, Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd, reported its best result in a decade, while shares in travel agencies Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd and Webjet Ltd are trading within range of record highs.

The boom has attracted dealmakers, most notably the $920 million buyout of resort operator Mantra Group by French hotel company Accor SA last year - forming Australia's biggest hotel group.

Source: Reuters; Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Darren Schuettler

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‘China’s Hawaii’ Expands Visa-Free Access to 33 More Countries

(Bloomberg) China has extended visa-free access to Hainan for another 33 -- mostly European and South American -- countries, as President Xi Jinping seeks to boost the tropical province's popularity among foreign tourists.

New regulations expanding the travel privileges to 59 nations come into effect in May, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the State Immigration Administration. Tourists from those countries can enter the province as individuals without a visa and stay for as many as 30 days -- shift from previous rules that required people to travel in groups and stay no longer than 21 days.

Countries added to the list of those with visa-free access include Belgium, Brazil, Greece, Poland and Qatar.

The change would help "further expand the opening up of the tourism industry and attract more international tourists to travel to Hainan," Xinhua said, adding that the move would promote the aviation industry, tourism and economic development.

The announcement comes as the province -- often billed as "China's Hawaii" -- is trying to manage a budget gap and the debt woes of HNA Group Co., its biggest conglomerate, which is facing pressure from creditors after a global acquisition spree.

Foreigners traveling in the rest of mainland China will generally need to arrange visas before arriving in the country. Hainan, which roughly the size of Switzerland, received a package of economic policies paving the way for horse racing, sport lotteries, and expanded duty-free shopping after Xi visited the area earlier this month.

Bloomberg reported in February that government agencies under a party reform group headed by Xi were considering proposals to support the island, including allowing online gaming and a lottery, relaxing visa rules and enhancing infrastructure.

Countries with visa-free access to Hainan now include:

Albania  Argentina  Australia  Austria  Belarus  Belgium 
Bosnia and Herzegovina  Brazil  Brunei  Bulgaria  Canada  Chile 
Croatia  Cyprus  Czech Republic  Denmark  Estonia  Finland 
France  Germany  Greece  Hungary  Iceland  Indonesia 
Ireland  Italy  Japan  Kazakhstan  Latvia  Lithuania 
Luxembourg Macedonia  Malaysia Malta  Mexico  Monaco 
Montenegro  Netherlands  New Zealand  Norway  Philippines  Poland 
Portugal  Qatar  Romania  Russia  Serbia  Singapore
Slovakia Slovenia South Korea Spain  Sweden  Switzerland
Thailand UAE  Ukraine U.K. U.S.

Source: Bloomberg

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