Beijing plans to emerge on the oriental horizon as a fully developed international tourism metropolis in the next 10 years, said Yu Changjiang, director of the Beijing Tourism Bureau.
"The capital of China is brushing the dust off its buildings, purifying the air and upgrading its urban facilities to fulfill a 10-year target to thoroughly remould itself into an international tourist mecca with oriental characteristics," Yu said.
"We should take full advantage of the city's tourism resources and market them well at home and abroad," Yu said. "The 10-Year General Arrangement on the Development of Beijing's Tourism has been formulated."
According to the capital's blueprint, three tourism circles, involving a downtown shopping and entertainment circle, a suburban recreation circle and a mountain area of the Great Wall sightseeing circle, are expected to be established to fulfill the 10-year plan.
Beijing is expected to play host to 2.8 million visitors in 2005 and 3.5 million overseas visitors in 2010, generating revenue of about US$3.1 billion and US$3.8 billion in 2005 and 2010 respectively.
Faced with competitors both at home and abroad, the Beijing bureau has decided to set up several tourist enterprise groups to sharpen its competitive edge in the coming years.
Insiders indicate that capital reorganization and long-term strategies, combined with network formulation and name brand creation will be the developing trend of the tourist industry.
In January, six tourist services under the Beijing Tourism Group and two related enterprises jointly set up the Beijing Shenzhou International Tourism Service Group and five subsidiaries.
"It is the first step in the consolidation of the city's tourist industry, and an example for other tourist services, especially smaller ones," Yu said.
A source from the bureau said that, including Shenzhou, there are only 11 tourist services approved to handle foreign business. Three of them were part of the Shenzhou merger.
According to statistics from the Shenzhou Group, its sales volume for 15 days during this year's Spring Festival was almost three times the total of the other 10 businesses in the same period last year.
Yu acknowledged that a great deal of tourist resources have not yet been tapped, citing cultural tours as an example.
"From the beginning of this year, we opened the Hancunhe Village Tour as a trial tourism product. So far it has attracted more than 1,000 foreign travellers," Yu said.
Foreign visitors stay in the homes of local residents while on the tour. By letting tourists live, eat and even work with residents of the village, the tour offers visitors a glimpse at life in China's countryside.
"On the other hand, such tourist products might create a new means of income for the rural residents of Beijing and help them communicate with the outside world," Yu said.
A series of new tours, including museums, historic sites, educational institutions and sports venues, are expected to be presented in Beijing.
Yu also stressed that this industry's development always involves several sectors of the business community.
"To obtain sustainable and healthy development, we should establish an overall co-operation and co-ordination system among different sectors," he said.