Dujiangyan Irrigation System is the oldest and only surviving no-dam irrigation system in the world.(Photo/Shanghai Daily)
Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in the southwestern China and often referred to as the panda hometown, is bracing itself for the 22nd United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly, which is held during September 11-16.
The conference is biennially convened by UNWTO, the world's most influential tourism organization, and has been held in 21 cities of 18 countries. The Chinese capital, Beijing, hosted the event in 2003.
Being noted as the "Land of Abundance" (Tianfu), Chengdu has been ranked as one of the best tourist cities in China for several years. Li Bai (AD 701-762), a renowned Chinese poet living in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), said: "The nine heavens created one Chengdu city, with thousands of houses brought into a scene. Its grass, trees, clouds and mountains are like brocade, and how could other cities compare to it."
With a gorgeous view of its natural sceneries and historical structures, data compiled by the provincial tourism authorities revealed that Chengdu received 93.83 million travelers in the first half of this year, up 5.2 percent from a year earlier. The tourism revenue in Chengdu increased 19.91 percent year on year to 129.5 billion yuan (US$19.85 billion).
The most famous tourist spot in Chengdu should be the giant panda base. Panda is nicknamed, as Gun Gun in China, which literally means, "rolling and rolling." In the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, tourists can see pandas at an open-air enclosure. Cute baby pandas can also be found at the nursery house.
Three years ago, it became the fourth Chinese city to allow a 72-hour free visa entry allowing tourists from 45 countries to visit Chengdu without a visa. Now there are 102 international flights connecting Chengdu with other overseas cities.
Chengdu is also an ancient city with a history of civilization spanning 4,500 years. It is also renowned for its historical sites. It was also the capital of Liu Bei's Shu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280), as well as several other local kingdoms during the Middle Ages. The pattern of sunbird gold foil unearthed from the Jinsha Archeological Site symbolizes the Chinese cultural heritage.
Chengdu is accelerating its progress of building itself into a "National Central Metropolis," and by the end of last year the gross domestic product grew 7.7 percent year on year to over 1.2 trillion yuan. The city's GDP growth is 1 percentage point higher than the national average. During the past five years, more than 1 million entities have registered to the market and some 530,000 newly emerged.
A national pilot free trade zone, consisting of three districts, with two in Chengdu, had its unveiling ceremony in the city on April 1. The China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, where Chengdu occupies 100 square kilometers and is the core, prompts international trade and the start-up business in the province. On August 14, Malaysia National Pavilion joined the FTZ in Chengdu's Shuangliu area.