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Private Businesses Woo Tourism in East China

An increasing number of private business owners in east China's Zhejiang Province are seeking a share in the local tourism industry, as the coastal province encourages diverse funds to build more tourist resorts.

The Peace Blossom Island, once an uninhabited island near Zhoushan, has been favored by many private investors, at least two of whom have reached deals with the local government.

Most investors believe that a major selling point of the island lies in its reputation as the home of a chivalrous father and his smart daughter featured in a novel by Louis Cha Leung-yung, a celebrated Hong Kong writer with the pen name "Jin Yong."

"To turn the Peace Blossom Island into a tourist attraction is part of our long-term development plan," said Zhu Baoguo, general manager of a production material market based in Ningbo City.

Tourism has offered great market potentials as the average Chinese are better off and enjoy more holidays, said Zhu, who has decided to pour 10 million yuan (US$ 1.2 million) into the island project. "The idea to invest in tourism actually struckme two years ago," he told Xinhua.

Zhejiang boasts many scenic spots, some of which are still in the wild. As government allocations always fall short, the province has mapped out preferential policies to draw funds from non-governmental sources in recent years.

Lured by the high returns, more and more business owners are willing to start and expand investment in the tourism sector.

Songcheng Group, headquartered in the provincial capital Hangzhou, has fostered several tourist attractions in Hangzhou and Xiaoshan, bringing 4 million tourist arrivals annually.

Some private investors have even fought their way into other provinces. In 2000, Jinyi Group reached a deal with the northernmost Heilongjiang Province on the development of a tourist destination there.

Analysts have forecast further boom in China's tourism industry,which promises huge profits to the investors.

(People's Daily January 13, 2002)

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