Local Uygur women greet visitors with dancing and singing in Turpan, in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Fun is fighting fear in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Or, you could say, terror is losing.
Xinjiang's tourism, which crashed in 2014 because of terrorist attacks, has begun to recover this year, the regional tourism bureau says. It had fallen 40 percent between May 2013 and May 2014.
More than 7.2 million domestic travelers visited Xinjiang in the first three months of 2015, representing a 9 percent year-on-year increase. The region also attracted 256,300 foreign tourists during the period.
Visits to Xinjiang during this year's three-day May Day holiday increased more than 11 percent year-on-year, the bureau's figures show. Xinhua News Agency reports many Xinjiang destinations enjoyed a 30 percent annual increase during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival in early June. The Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture's government reported an 80 percent year-on-year surge during the Dragon Boat holiday.
Xinjiang, during the first four months of last year, tried to buoy the industry by introducing 500 yuan ($80) coupons for shopping, hotels and attractions for group travelers from 19 provinces. The dispersed vouchers' total value was 20 million yuan, media quote the region's government as saying.
Despite a spike around the Lunar New Year, the first quarter is tourism's low season in the autonomous region and the country.
Xinjiang will especially focus on promoting tourism in its southern swath－a vital ancient Silk Road artery－that today hosts traditional ethnic Uygur culture. Southern Xinjiang endured the most difficulty luring guests last year because most attacks happened there.
Extremism has since been curtailed. But not eradicated.
Visits to southern Xinjiang's Tashi Kuergan Tajik autonomous county in Kashgar prefecture increased from January through May by 13 percent year-on-year. About 110,500 visits generated 14 million yuan, an 11 percent spending increase.
The county is applying for a national-level tourism status and constructing new attractions. It's also building a new airport, rail lines and highways as part of the enhanced transportation central to the Belt and Road Initiative to reincarnate ancient Silk Road networks.
Xinjiang's tourism's recovery has been accelerated by the fact the China National Tourism Administration has declared 2015 the Year of Silk Road Travel under the initiative. The country's westernmost region contains perhaps the grandest constellation of the ancient network's nexuses.
Xinjiang also started work on a Silk Road Economic Belt tourism-service center on April 30. The center, which will become operational in three years, will provide travelers with information about, and services for, all attractions in the autonomous region and other countries on the belt.
President Xi Jinping in 2013 proposed the trade belt's creation to enhance economic integration along the ancient route, extending via Xinjiang through Central Asia to Europe.