Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Hardly Tempting

The crystal clear waters of Karakul Lake in Xinjiang is a tourist spot
After a spate of deadly violence including last week's suicide bombings in an open-air street market in Urumqi that killed 39 and injured 94, the regional government is trying to convince tourists to come back to Xinjiang.

Would 500 yuan ($80) tempt you to go?

That's the amount the regional authorities are willing to give each domestic tourist who visits the restive region. According to China Radio International the number of tourists has plunged by 40 percent compared to last year.

"Many tourists went skiing and skating in Xinjiang during the winter. But since the deadly knife attack in Kunming in March, many have postponed their tour to Xinjiang," said Inam Nesirdi, the region's tourism chief.

Another draw is the Taklamakan Desert but will tourists come?
The government is moving quickly to secure the area, with 55 people convicted of terrorism, separatism and murder and were earlier paraded in a sports stadium. Three of them were sentenced to death. Meanwhile, police arrested five members of a group allegedly planning a bomb attack in the region.

Last Sunday, Beijing announced a one-year anti-terrorism campaign with Xinjiang singled out as the "main battlefield".

It will be interesting to see if this campaign really is effective in rooting out what the government claims are terrorists and if the region will be safer. Will it only take one year?

But in the meantime as much as I would love to visit Xinjiang, as I have been told about the gorgeous Karakul Lake and the Taklamakan Desert, the fantastic rustic food and warm people, being awarded 500 yuan for my bravery isn't quite enough to entice me to venture in such a volatile area unfortunately...

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