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1.5 bln international tourist arrivals recorded in 2019: UNWTO

(Photo: CGTN)2019 saw a new record for international tourist numbers, with 1.5 billion arrivals recorded, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said at a press conference held in Madrid on Monday.2019 is the 10th consecutive year of international tourist growth and the 1.5 billion tourists represent a four percent increase from that of 2018, with the UNWTO also predicting continued growth of between three and four percent for 2020 inspired partly by events such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the Expo 2020 in Dubai.The UNWTO explained that growth in 2019 was affected by "uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the collapse of Thomas Cook, geopolitical and social tensions and the global economic slowdown," with the slowdown "mainly affecting advanced economies and particularly Europe and Asia and the Pacific."Nevertheless, all areas of the world saw an increase in arrivals, prompting UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili to state that "tourism remains a reliable economic sector.""Our sector keeps outpacing the world economy and calling upon us to not only grow but to grow better," he added.The Middle East was the fastest growing region in the world, with eight percent growth in 2019, while the Asia and the Pacific region expanded five percent. Europe saw a four percent growth in international tourist arrivals and welcomed 743 million visitors.The Americas had poorer results with growth of two percent, which the UNWTO put down to "ongoing social and political turmoil."Nine-percent growth in North Africa helped the continent to four percent growth, although growth in sub-Saharan Africa stood at 1.5 percent.

The iconic food in Jakarta's Chinatown

Jakartas Chinatown is bursting with red and gold ornaments. (Photo: CGTN)Willy Julus pours thick condensed milk into the bottom of a cup before topping it with freshly brewed coffee. A house specialty in his shop tucked in a corner of Jakartas Chinatown."This is why we are special. We still make coffee the old-fashioned way. Very vintage and no machine at all," said Willy.His great-grandfather founded Kopi Es Tak Kie in 1927 in an area called Glodok in Jakarta. It started off humbly as a makeshift tent offering iced coffee and several traditional Chinese snacks.Today, Willy is continuing his familys legacy by running their famous coffee shop."I am trying to evolve with the times. We are engaging with audiences on social media. We have opened several stores in business districts and we try to join bazaars whenever we can to get our brand out there. Nowadays, theres a lot of competition but we believe our history and story will always attract customers," Willy said.Kopi Es Tak Kie is not the only establishment steeped in history and stories in Jakartas Chinatown. For years, visitors flock to the area to get a taste of real Chinese cuisine mixed with Indonesias local charm.Kevindra Soemantri, a food expert, has always been intrigued by the stories that radiate from the streets."The unique thing about Chinatown in Jakarta is the vendors here are Chinese Indonesians from all over the country so the spices, flavors, ingredients that they use are diverse. Even the language they speak, you can hear the different dialects here," Kevindra said.Gang Gloria, which translates to Gloria Alley, is one of the most famous streets for Chinese cuisine. Everything from savory curry noodles to sweet pastries fill the narrow alley."The food here represents the melting pot of the Chinatown of Jakarta because you will see lots of noodles, and unlike the Chinatown all over the world where the noodles are mainly from the Hokkie...

Passenger trips total 758 mln since start of Spring Festival travel rush

(Photo: Xinhua)BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- The number of passenger trips rose 2.5 percent year on year to 758 million in the first 10 days of the Spring Festival travel rush, official data showed.From Jan. 10 to 19, 117 million railway trips were made, up 20.3 percent from one year earlier, according to the Ministry of Transport (MOT).The country reported 612 million road trips as well as 8.84 million trips through waterway transportation, which increased by 4.8 percent year on year.Civil aviation sector operated 19.13 million passenger trips during the period, registering a 9.1-percent yearly growth, MOT data showed.The week-long holiday for the Lunar New Year will begin on Jan. 24, while the travel rush, also known as "chunyun," will last for 40 days from Jan. 10 to Feb. 18.

Visitor arrivals to Macao drop by 13.6 pct in December 2019

(Photo: China Plus)MACAO, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- The visitor arrivals to Macao totaled 3.08 million in December 2019, a decrease of 13.6 percent year-on-year, the special administrative region (SAR)s statistic department said here on Tuesday.The latest report from the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) indicated that the same-day visitors (1.61 million) and overnight visitors (1.47 million) dropped by 12.1 percent and 15.3 percent respectively.The average length of stay of visitors held steady year-on-year at 1.2 days, with that of overnight visitors and same-day visitors remaining unchanged at 2.2 days and 0.2 day respectively.Visitors from Chinese mainland decreased by 14.5 percent year-on-year to 2.09 million, with 54.6 percent of them coming from Guangdong Province. Visitors from South Korea (46,903), Hong Kong SAR (655,129) and Chinas Taiwan region (79,714) went down by 39.3 percent, 3.9 percent and 14.3 percent respectively.For the whole year of 2019, visitor arrivals reached 39.41 million, an increase of 10.1 percent year-on-year, the DSEC report added.Same-day visitors (20.77 million) and overnight visitors (18.63 million) rose by 20.0 percent and 0.8 percent respectively. The average length of stay of total visitors (1.2 days), overnight visitors (2.2 days) and same-day visitors (0.2 day) held stable year-on-year.Analyzed by source market, visitors from Chinese mainland (27.92 million), Hong Kong SAR (7.35 million) and Chinas Taiwan region (1.06 million) went up by 10.5 percent, 16.2 percent and 0.2 percent respectively, whereas those from South Korea (743,026) reduced by 8.6 percent.Visitors from Canada (75,060) and Britain (59,284) recorded year-on-year increases, while those from the United States (199,800) and Australia (84,030) decreased.Analyzed by mode of transport, visitor arrivals by land jumped by 32.2 percent year-on-year to 29.29 million in 2019, with those arriving through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (5.38 million) accounted...

Reporter's diary: How Kashgar's first ski park helps drive employment

The Kashgar Icy Mountain Ski Park, located on the outskirt of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Photo: CGTN)For Mamat Eli, a villager living on the outskirt of Kashgar City in Chinas Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, his recent gig as a lifeguard in the local ski park changed not only his life but the lives of his family.Mamat lives in a poverty-stricken village in Nezerbagh Town, some 20 minutes drive from the Kashgar City center. When we arrived at his workplace in the morning, we met Mamats boss Samatjan Awaz, a successful local businessman. Awaz told us, the ski park, which just opened for business in December, is the first of its kind in Kashgar."Nothing like this existed before," Awaz explained as we gathered at a fireplace in the reception area, "there was nothing to do for people during the winter, maybe one or two indoor playgrounds, but that was all there was."Despite having historical significance as a busy trading hub on Chinas ancient silk road, Kashgars economic development has largely fallen flat in recent decades as waves of terrorist attack gripped the region.Since the 1990s, Xinjiang became the target of a violent separatist campaign perpetrated by groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is designated as a terrorist organization both by the U.S. and China.The campaign sought to push Islamic fundamentalism to illiterates young and old, who, in turn, carried out stabbings and bombings. For a while, it was a no-go land for many Chinese living inland.Around noon, youngsters began to arrive in packs of five and six, eager to get their feet on a pair of skis for the first time. We stood on the hard, icy surface and waited as Awaz called for Mamat through the walkie-talkie.Soon, a lean figure wearing a hoodie under a red staff vest approached us and shook our hands. After a few minutes of getting to know him, Mamat came across as very timid but genuine. As we talked, he began to reveal mo...

SK becomes Spring Festival hot spot for Chinese visitors

People attend a Spring Festival event in Seoul on January 9. (Photo: VCG)South Korea is among the favorite destinations for Chinese visitors during the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival, with local businesses gearing up to attract Chinese consumption power as bilateral relations warm up, industry observers said on Monday.For this years Spring Festival, which kicks off on Saturday, South Korea ranks No.4 among the top 10 hot destinations for Chinese tourists seeking visas, after Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, according to data that Chinas leading travel service provider Trip.com Group sent to the Global Times on Monday.South Korea was among the top 10 foreign travel destinations for Chinese seeking to go shopping in 2019, Trip.com noted."I flew to Seoul in early January for a five-day tour with my family and the flight I took was packed with Chinese visitors," a 30-something Beijing resident surnamed Peng told the Global Times on Monday."We visited some scenic spots in the capital and went shopping for cosmetics, clothes and some ginseng, which cost us more than 10,000 yuan ($1,458)," Peng said, adding that her family spent more than 10,000 yuan on accommodation and food, and more than 1,000 yuan on transportation.South Korean retail giant Shinsegae said that the total value of purchases by Chinese customers rose 46.5 percent year-on-year during the January 1-16 period, Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday.Spending by Chinese visitors in the flagship store of Shinsegae in Myeong-dong, the primary shopping district in Seoul, surged 75.9 percent on a yearly basis in January, the report said."I traveled between Shenzhen, [South Chinas Guangdong Province], and several places in South Korea for work reasons in the past three years. According to my observation, Chinese visitors are returning to the country as bilateral relations have warmed up since last year," said Mandy Yang, a white-collar worker based in Shenzhen.&n...

2020 China-Malaysia Tourism Year opens in Kuala Lumpur

(Photo: CGTN)The opening ceremony for the 2020 China-Malaysia Tourism Year was held in Kuala Lumpur on January 19. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad both sent messages of congratulations.In his message, Li Keqiang said China and Malaysia are neighbors separated by sea. The friendship between the two countries is over a thousand years. Zhenghe, a navigator of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) had visited Melaka five times and had a deep friendship with local people, and a good story on the history of China and Malaysia.In recent years, China has cooperated with Malaysia on multiple framework agreements, and it has added impetus to regional prosperity and stability. The tourism year is a good chance to expand cultural exchanges and enhance mutual understanding for people from the two countries. And it will further consolidate public support and social foundation for the development of a comprehensive strategic partnership.For his part, Mahathir said China and Malaysia have longstanding relations, and he believes the tourism year will benefit bilateral relations. He also wished people from both countries happiness and health in the upcoming Year of the Rat, and that relations will continue to move forward in the future.

Four family-tour destinations for 2020 Spring Festival holiday

(Photo: CGTN)The upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year holiday is expected to see a significant surge in family vacations, said Chinas online travel agency Ctrip. While family gatherings remain an essential part of the occasion, more people opt for a relaxing journey to reward themselves after a years hard work.However, when it comes to traveling during public holidays, crowding is always a big headache for many. Withsome 450 million domestic trips to be made in the week-long holiday, excessive crowds are inevitable at some of the popular tourist sites, such as the Forbidden City in Beijing, Shanghai Disneyland, and the West Lake in Hangzhou.What are some of the alternatives for a lovely tour with family members? Check out the following family-friendly destinations in China that come with relatively fewer crowds.Datang Everbright City, XianName one city where youll feel the vibe of an authentic Spring Festival, and that would be Xian in northwest Chinas Shaanxi Province. Recently, thereal-life "roly-poly toy" performance at the Datang Everbright Cityhas been causing a stir on the internet, successfully drawing more peoples attention.As its Chinese name indicates, Datang Everbright City is a place that never sleeps. Its particularly bustling at night, adorned with colorful lights. From Chinese historical and cultural heritage to modern building complex and decorations, it showcases a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity.During the Spring Festival holiday, it will present a cultural feast that highlights abundant cultural performances, beautiful lanterns, and lively fairs with both global vision and Xian characteristics.Yuntai Mountain Scenic Area, JiaozuoYuntai Mountain Scenic Area, together with the Forbidden City, topped the list of the "Top 10 Most Visitor-Friendly Scenic Areas in China" released by Ctrip. Factors like ticketing, access, guidance, services, and tourists e...

Moon tourism will soon happen, predicts ESA

The Rosalind Franklin rover of the joint ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars mission completes a series of environmental tests at the end of 2019 at Airbus, Toulouse, France. (Photo: China Daily)Europes 22-nation European Space Agency, also known as the ESA, has announced a huge budget increase for its next five years of space exploration and discovery, and its director general has said the prospect of space as a tourist destination "will certainly come".Last year was not a successful one for the ESA, with development of its ExoMars lander-rover mission, scheduled to take place this summer, significantly delayed after two failed tests of the crafts descent parachute landing system.As windows of opportunity for Mars landings only come around once every 26 months, it has needed help from the United States Jet Propulsion Laboratories to try and fix the problem in time.At its annual news conference in Paris on Wednesday, ESA Director General Jan Woerner announced an increased budget of 14.5 billion euros ($16.2 billion) for the years ahead. That figure is almost 21 percent bigger than the budget agreed in 2016." (It) is important at the beginning of a year to think about that its not just another year. Its a very special year," he said. "Everybody is talking about climate change as the predominant challenge. Yes, it is predominant, but we have also other challenges."Much talk of space travel in recent times has been around the prospect of travelers paying to go into space, with South African entrepreneur Elon Musks SpaceX project leading the way, in addition to proposals from British businessman Richard Branson.SpaceX hopes to send its Crew Dragon spaceship on its first crewed mission soon, and has already released a computer simulation of how it expects the experience to look. And while the ESA is not going to join these businesses in a new commercial space race, Woerner acknowledged the validity of what they were doing and...

Travel trends during China's 2020 Spring Festival holiday

(Photo: CGTN)Some 450 million domestic trips are expected during the Spring Festival holiday in China, up 7.6 percent year-on-year, according to Ctrip, Chinas leading online travel agency.Besides the traditional family get-together at home, celebrating the holiday by traveling is the most noticeable trend this year. Follow CGTN and check out what the data says about the tourism sector during the 2020 Spring Festival holiday.Domestic travelWhen it comes to domestic travel, rail is still the dominant mode of transport. The rapid development of the national railway network has enabled an increasing number of people to enjoy a faster and more convenient journey by train.Trips made by bullet trains or high-speed trains accounted for about 70 percent of the total number, according to the statistics from Ctrip. Railway stations in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, are expected to witness the largest passenger crowds.Where will the majority of people head to for their holiday?It is not surprising that famous destinations – the Palace Museum in Beijing, Shanghai Disneyland and West Lake in east Chinas Zhejiang Province – will be the top three places where massive crowds are expected.Warm southern cities and northern ice and snow destinations also saw growing popularity among group visitors and independent travelers. Sanya in south Chinas Hainan Province, Xiamen in east Chinas Fujian Province and Harbin in northeast Chinas Heilongjiang Province are among the top picks.Overseas travelAs more countries and regions offer friendlier visa policies for Chinese tourists, an increasing number of people are showing interest in traveling abroad. According to Ctrip, Chinese tourists have booked outbound trips to over 1,000 destinations in 102 countries and regions during the holiday on its platform.Young Chinese accounted for the majority of outbound tourists, with Chinese aged 31-40 making up 29 percent and people under 30 formin...

A mountain, a lake and sheer beauty you can breathe

Checkerboard-like green fields cut for the Shanghu Lake and Yushan Mountain from afar. (Photo: China Daily)In ancient times the city of Changshu had a poetic name, Qinchuan, meaning guqin stream, theguqinbeing regarded by Chinese as the most elegant of all their musical instruments, producing delicate music from seven strings. Later guqin would come to denote elegance.Qinchuan originates from the river running through the north and south of Changshu, with seven lateral tributaries resembling the seven strings on the ancient instrument. The canal that crosses the city for more than 1 kilometer is thus called the Qinchuan River, also known as Changshus Mother River.Strolling in the alley along the Qinchuan, visitors can enjoy a view of Jiangnan-style houses with white walls and gray tiles, and small bridges connected to the road every other section. Changshu used to have fewer roads. Farmers often paddled boats to hawk along the river and those living in houses by the river often dropped bamboo baskets from windows and used them to buy things.In 758 during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Jiangnan East prefecture was abolished and was divided into Zhejiang East prefecture, Zhejiang West prefecture, and Fujian prefecture. Among them, Zhejiang West prefecture was under the jurisdiction of present-day southern Jiangsu, northern Zhejiang, Shanghai, and Huizhou in Anhui province. This area is roughly equivalent to what today is Jiangnan (south of Yangtze River). Its wealth in resources and human development accumulated after the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420) when northern China was run by non-Hans, and the Han aristocrats fled and settled in Jiangnan. From then on the region became synonymous with prosperity and poetry.Many poets have written of the regions scenic beauty, Yushan Mountain perhaps being the jewel in the crown. Yushan, the only mountain in the Changshu urban area, was originally called Wumu.At the end of the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th century-11t...

Myanmar sees more tourists from China

Myanmar is attracting more and more Chinese tourists to explore the ancient cultural heritage and natural beauty in this neighboring country.A night view of Sule Pagoda, a stupa located in downtown Yangon, Myanmar. (Photo: Xinhua)The Southeast Asian nation received 523,499 Chinese visitors from January to September last year, a year-on-year increase of 164 percent, according to figures from the countrys Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population, which were quoted by Myanmars Eleven Media Group.Now China has become Myanmars largest source of foreign tourists with the biggest increase in tourist numbers.Peng Liang, a researcher with the big data lab of Ctrip, Chinas largest online travel agency, said package tours are the choice of 80 percent of Chinese travelers to Myanmar.According to Peng, attractions popular with Chinese tourists include the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar; Mandalay Palace, the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarch, U Bein Bridge; and Ngwe Saung Beach.Wendy Min enjoyed her trip to the country in 2013, during which she visited cities including Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay."The travel sites, local people and their hospitality really made me fall in love with the country," she said, "and I really want to visit again if I have a chance".Travel to Myanmar from China has boomed especially in the past two years partly due to eased visa regulations and the growth in direct flights between the two countries.Starting from Oct 1, 2018, the Myanmar government introduced a trial policy that grants visas on arrival to Chinese visitors with ordinary passports. In September, the policy was extended to Sept 30 this year.Currently, China tops the list of international airlines in Myanmar, with flights by 13 Chinese airlines between Chinese cities and Yangon, Eleven Media Group reported.There are more than 150 direct flights between the two countries every month, a figure seven times larg...

A taste of Xinjiang at Kashgar's night market

You will never know the real Xinjiang if youve never been to Kashgar, and a journey to Kashgar is never complete without savoring its local specialties. As one of the best cities to sample authentic Xinjiang cuisine, Kashgar is noted for its diversified food culture.Opposite the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgars old town lies the Haan Bazaar. When the evening closes in, the twilight marks the beginning of a culinary adventure. The market draws in large crowds of locals and visitors to fulfill their inner foodie desires.Here are some must-try dishes in Kashgars food paradise:KebabsIts impossible to imagine the local diet without mutton and lamb. From smoke-grilled kebabs to whole roasted lambs, meat lovers simply cant resist the temptation. There are quite a few kebab stalls at the night market, filling the streets with lamb-laden curls of smoke.Lamb kebabs sold at the night market in Kashgars old town. (Photo: VCG)Small pieces of lamb are grilled on skewers over charcoal with various spices sprinkled on them to add flavors. Visitors are drawn by the captivating smell from a distance. When they have their first bite, the tender and juicy meat creates a lingering taste in their mouths.Tip: Clean the tips of the skewers before eating.NaanNaan is a staple food for Uygurs. The bread is made from plain ingredients including flour, milk, salt and sugar, but it conjures up a host of wonderful sensations.Naan bread. (Photo: VCG)It comes in different sizes and shapes, typically round, with distinctive flavors. Grab a freshly-baked one, tear it off, and youll find it surprisingly tasty compared with how it looks. The surface is slightly crispy and the texture inside is quite soft.Dont underestimate the power of the humble-looking bread. These discs can last for a month or two. Many visitors cant help but bring some home when their journey ends.Naan bread is cooked by sticking the dough on the wall of a naan pit. (Photo: VCG)DoghLocall...

Lesser-known but worthy cultural tourism destinations in China

Beijing topped the 2019 ranking of popular cultural tourism cities in China, followed by Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xian, according to a report released jointly by Chinas travel platform Mafengwo and the Peoples Cultural Tourism on Thursday.Chinese consumers are actively embracing domestic cultural tourism during holiday periods, taking special interest in sites with historical significance, the report said.Among the various domestic tourist attractions, the renowned Palace Museum in Beijing ranked first, with Shanghai Disneyland and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding taking second and third place respectively.Apart from such globally known attractions, there are some lesser-known ones on the list that are also well worth a visit. Check out the following alternatives for your next trip to China.Hongya Cave, ChongqingA night view of Hongya Cave in Chongqing, southwest China. (Photo: CGTN)For those who have watched the animated filmSpirited Awaydirected by Japanese cartoonist Hayao Miyazaki, youll find similar sights here at Hongya Cave. Once a military fortress with a history of over 2,300 years, the 11-story stilt house constructed above a steep cliff is quite mysterious and stunning, especiallyat night.Shamian Island, GuangzhouShamian Island in Guangzhou, south Chinas Guangdong Province.(Photo: CGTN)Shamian literally means "sandy surface" in Chinese. It is filled with European charms and is a treat for those who are fond of architecture and history alike as European-styled buildings are scattered around the place.The avenues are lined with trees and flowers, perfect for a nice contemplative stroll.Wuzhizhou Island, SanyaWuzhizhou Island in Sanya, south Chinas Hainan Province.(Photo: CGTN)Known for its crystal clear water and sandy beach, Wuzhizhou Island offers a variety of choices for water sports, including scuba diving, snorkeling and parachute sailing. Its als...

Australia to lose billions as bushfires deter tourists

File photo: AFPAustralia will lose billions of dollars in tourism revenue as international visitors cancel trips in droves due to bushfires raging across the country, an industry body forecast Friday.The number of travellers booking visits to Australia has fallen 10-20 percent since the fires began in September and the slump will cost the economy an estimated AUS$4.5 billion ($3 billion) this year, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) said."International visitors are cancelling because of fears around air quality, safety and the impact fires have had on our tourism offering as well as a lack of certainty on how long it will take for us to recover," ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said.Global media have given extensive coverage to thewildfires, which have killed at least 28 people, burned an area larger than Portugal and blanketed the key tourist cities of Sydney and Melbourne in toxic smoke.ATEC said the disaster had hit travel from the US, UK and Europe the hardest, coinciding with the December-February period which traditionally sees 50 percent of the annual tourist bookings from those markets.Shelley said the industry and government need to urgently get the message out that many key tourism destinations are largely unaffected by the fires."There is no doubt our industry will take a hit," he said. "The sooner we can communicate a strong, positive message, the better."Australias conservative government, which has come under intense criticism for its response to the fires and to the global warming which scientists say has been a major contributing factor to the crisis, has announced an AUS$2 billion "bushfire recovery plan".Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that this would include a significant boost for the tourism industry, with details to be unveiled next week.Tourism Australia was forced to suspend an upbeat advertising campaign launched in the middle of the crisis featuring pop star Kylie M...

Tibet urban sewage disposal rate exceeds 90 percent

(Photo: CGTN)The sewage disposal rate in the urban areas of southwest Chinas Tibet Autonomous Region has reached 90.19 percent as the region fights to curb pollution, local authorities said on January 14, 2020.Tibets high altitude and low temperatures have made it more difficult and costly to dispose sewage in its urban areas with traditional techniques, according to the regional department of housing and urban-rural development.Tibet has 18 sewage disposal factories in full operation and 14 in trial operation, data showed.The region is building 56 more sewage disposal facilities for further improving the handling of polluted water in the region.The urbanization rate in Tibet has reached 32 percent, with over 1.07 million residents living in cities and towns, according to the latest statistics from the regional housing and urban-rural development bureau.

In Seychelles, nature is prized above mass tourism

Seychelles is confronting a tug-of-war over how to keep the economy growing, while protecting its fragile ecosystem.(Photo: AFP)In a shady patch along a pristine white beach on Mahe Island, a radio spits out reggae and snapper sizzles on the barbecue, as Seychelloise Nareen tops up her rum and coke on time off from her job aboard a luxury yacht.Her family is spending the weekend at the beach where a couple dipping their feet into the turquoise waters off in the distance are the only foreign tourists in sight."We dont have mass tourism in Seychelles, and thats great. That is how we want it," says Nareen, 32, who asked for her full name not to be published.Nevertheless, like most citizens, she earns her living from tourism, which makes up more than 60 percent of GDP in the Seychelles, the only country in Africa considered "high income" by the World Bank.The Indian Ocean archipelago, a chain of 115 islands, is a byword for luxury holidays, Instagram-perfect beaches and has gained a reputation as a honeymoon idyll.But it is confronting a tug-of-war over how to keep the economy growing, while protecting its fragile ecosystem."More tourists means its better for the economy, but its not the only thing that comes into play," Nareen says.One island, one resortHigh-end tourism, from Europe mainly, helped pull the Seychelles from the brink of financial ruin after the 2008 economic crisis.Visitor numbers almost doubled in the decade that followed, to around 360,000 in 2018, nearly four times the countrys population.But now the Seychelles is grappling with how many visitors it can realistically accommodate. An official study commissioned into the matter is due to begin soon.In the meantime, the government placed a moratorium in 2015 on the construction of large resorts on the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.It wanted both to protect the environment and encourage the growth of smaller, locally-run hotel...

Explore the first village on China-Myanmar border – Mengjinglai Scenic Area

(Photo: CGTN)Nestled about two kilometers from Daluo Township of Menghai County in southwest Chinas Yunnan Province, the Mengjinglai Scenic Area, or the first village on China-Myanmar border, is a hidden gem ready to be discovered. Be it the mysterious beauty, unique Dai Culture or friendly villagers, a visit to this under-the-radar place would leave you with an unforgettable impression. Join CGTN Travel and have a glimpse of the ultimate destination for countless globe-trotters.A paradise for pilgrimsThe crystal-clear Daluo River flows through the west side of the village, forming a natural borderline with Myanmar on the opposite side of the river. When you enter the village, you will soon feel embraced by the picturesque view and cant help slow down your pace to enjoy and take photos. Acres of paddies and fish farms, the Buddhist temple, pagodas, as well as the thousand-year-old sacred tree under the blue sky and white clouds, weave a paradise far apart from the bustling outside world.The solemn pagoda groups at the entrance of the village is a must for visitors. The golden pagoda groups are the largest in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwest Chinas Yunnan, blessing the auspiciousness and happiness of the Dai people. At the end of the pagoda groups, there is a thousand-year-old sacred bodhi tree, an ideal site for visitors to cool down in summer.Boasting for rich culture, a Buddhist temple in the village is a paradise for pilgrims. Its said that local boys would be sent into the temple in their childhood to cultivate good personality. If you have plenty of your time here, chanting inside the temple would be a good chance to calm down and relax.Unique Dai CultureHome to hospitable Dai people, this primitive but exquisite village that keeps the distinctive simplicity of the traditional architecture style is where you could soak up the traditional vibe and experience Dai peoples lifestyle as well as hand ...

Tourists face trial, deportation over Machu Picchu damage

Machu Picchu sanctuary. (Photo: CGTN)One tourist is facing trial and five others will be deported after being accused of damaging Perus cultural heritage and reportedly defecating in a sacred temple at the iconic Machu Picchu sanctuary, Peruvian police said on Tuesday.The six were arrested by police on Sunday after being found by park rangers in a restricted area of the Temple of the Sun, an important site at the Inca sanctuary.Authorities said the four men and two women had damaged the 600-year-old temple and defecated on the site, which lies in the southern Cusco region.Argentine Nahuel Gomez, who will be tried in court, has allegedly admitted to attempting to remove a stone that fell to the ground and chipped, also causing a crack in the floor.All six, aged 20-32, are accused of "damaging cultural heritage," regional police chief Victor Andres Patino told reporters on Tuesday.Several parts of the semicircular Temple of the Sun are off limits to tourists for preservation reasons.Worshipers at the temple would make offerings to the sun, which was considered the most important deity in the Inca empire as well as other pre-Inca civilizations in the Andean region.Nahuel remains in Machu Picchu where he was due to face a court hearing on Tuesday afternoon, while the other five – another Argentine, two Brazilians, a Chilean and a French woman – "will be deported," said Patino.Nahuel, 28, faces at least four years in prison if found guilty of damaging Perus cultural heritage.The other five have been transported to the city of Cusco, former capital of the Inca empire and current regional capital.The group allegedly entered the Inca sanctuary on Saturday and hid on site so they could spend the night there – which is prohibited.Its not the first time Machu Picchu – Perus most popular tourist site – has been damaged by humans. In 2000, the famous stone Intihuatana (sun dial) was damaged during filming for a beer commercial.The Machu Pi...

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