Feeling hospitality in ancient Silk Road city Xi'an-Xinhua

Feeling hospitality in ancient Silk Road city Xi'an

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-13 15:32:15

Tourists watch fireworks at the Tang Paradise in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Feb. 5, 2023.  (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)

by Xinhua writer Wang Jialin

XI'AN, May 13 (Xinhua) -- The northwestern Chinese city of Xi'an is known in the world for its most famous residents, the Terracotta Warriors, but there is so much more waiting to welcome visitors in this fascinating city.

With a history spanning over 3,100 years and serving as the capital for 13 dynasties for more than 1,100 years, it is not hard to see what attracts people to this city. During the recent May Day holiday, Xi'an was bustling with tourists, and I noticed a significant number of foreign visitors among them.

While wandering around a theme block next to the famous Dayan Pagoda (Wild Goose Pagoda), I met Natalia, a first-time visitor from Russia.

This area vividly highlights the vibrancy of life during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) through its architecture and bespoke performances. Happy to be immersed in this historical atmosphere, Natalia and her daughter were dressed in traditional Chinese attire.

"The architecture, dances and costumes are all beautiful," Natalia told me, adding that besides the historical sites, she also enjoyed the immersive history displays that blended the ancient and modern.

Hospitality is ingrained in Chinese culture, as the ancient saying goes, "It is always a pleasure to greet a friend from afar."

To make trips more convenient for foreign friends like Natalia, China has introduced a series of favorable policies, streamlining its visa application, improving international air transport capacity, and extending the visa-free policy for short-term visits to China for 12 countries.

According to the latest data from China's National Immigration Administration, the first quarter of this year witnessed a threefold increase in foreign visitors compared to 2023, with tourism accounting for over 30 percent of visits.

Zhang Fan, chairman of China Travel Navigator Co., Ltd., which is based in Xi'an, revealed that they've been hosting a steady stream of foreign tour groups since the beginning of the year, receiving over 1,300 tourists from European countries by May.

In early April, following the visa-free policy, Austria's first large-scale tourist group arrived in Shaanxi, and a grand welcome ceremony was held by the local tourism department to welcome the tourists, Zhang added.

While exploring some of the iconic scenic spots in Xi'an, I couldn't help but notice some changes that have made the city much more welcoming and accessible to foreign tourists.

At the 12 ticket booths of the ancient Xi'an City Wall scenic area, POS machines accept payments with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and other international bank cards, facilitating swift entry. These POS machines can be found at all the city's major scenic spots.

This photo taken on April 26, 2023 shows the Terracotta Warriors at the pit No.1 of the Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)

A service platform for the Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum was launched in April, allowing overseas tourists to buy tickets online and providing services in 24 languages. Tourists from 39 countries and regions can use 29 currencies when making visit reservations.

Karol Sadoch, a tourist from Poland, expressed his excitement upon hearing about the platform, saying that he would "definitely recommend it to friends planning to visit China."

"Seeing the Terracotta Warriors in person will make them feel that the trip was worthwhile," Sadoch told me, adding that from the tourist attractions to the food and transportation, he has felt the prosperity of Xi'an and the warmth of the people here.

Xi'an has long been hailed as a city of openness and inclusiveness. As the eastern starting point of the ancient Silk Road, a continuous flow of merchants, envoys and monks from around the globe traversed along the road to China for trade, cultural dialogue and exploration, many stopping in Xi'an.

Today, as an important post for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, Xi'an will continue to open its arms to welcome visitors from every corner of the globe.  


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