Viewing cable 07SHANGHAI756
Title: PROMOTING ANHUI TOURISM TO AMERICANS: A HARD SELL

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07SHANGHAI7562007-11-23 05:47:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Consulate Shanghai
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DE RUEHGH #0756/01 3270547
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230547Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6466
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1536
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0964
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0941
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0964
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 1088
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0783
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0136
RUEAEPA/EPA WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 6980
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SHANGHAI 000756 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EAP/CM AND INR/EAP - CLARKE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EIND PGOV EINV ELTN EAIR ECON CH KS
SUBJECT: PROMOTING ANHUI TOURISM TO AMERICANS:  A HARD SELL 
 
 
¶1. (U) SUMMARY:  Anhui Province, the poorest province in 
Shanghai's consular district, hopes to jump-start its economy by 
promoting tourism.  Although home to many beautiful natural and 
historical sights, Anhui is finding it difficult to attract mass 
numbers of Western tourists, and Americans in particular.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
THE FIRST ANHUI TOURISM FESTIVAL 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶2. (U) At the invitation of the Anhui Foreign Affairs Office, 
ConOff attended the opening of the first-ever Anhui Tourism 
Festival, awkwardly subtitled: "2007 China (Anhui) 
Middle-Eastern Tourism Fair."  The event was attended by 
representatives from only a few foreign missions (U.S., 
Malaysia, Sweden, and Israel) and two foreign tourism offices 
(South Korea and Hong Kong).  The festival began on November 17 
with an opening ceremony, during which the provincial governor 
and other local officials sang the praises of Anhui's tourism 
preeminence as spectators and official invitees stood listening 
semi-attentively in the freezing rain.  After an hour of 
speeches, two marching bands (playing two different songs) 
provided a dissonant and not-so-grand finale as fireworks 
sputtered defiantly against the downpour and ungrateful audience 
members were pelted with clumps of wet confetti. 
 
IT'S A HARD RAIN IS GONNA FALL 
------------------------------ 
 
¶3. (U) The poorest province in Shanghai's consular district, 
Anhui has long suffered from weak infrastructure and frequent 
flooding.  Anhui's topography is flat in the north, and 
hilly-to-mountainous in the south.  Lying within the Yangtze and 
Huaihai river basins, Anhui experiences yearly floods.  In 
addition, the mountainous terrain in the southern region has 
historically made transportation and access into and out of 
Anhui difficult.  In Eastern China, Anhui is clearly the lowest 
province on the totem pole.  For example, during periods of 
unseasonably high rain in the 1980s and 1990s, the Chinese 
Central Government chose to dam tributaries of the Yangtze River 
and purposely flood Anhui to spare the more developed and 
economically important eastward neighbor, Jiangsu Province, at 
Anhui's expense. 
 
WELL BEHIND THE PACK 
-------------------- 
 
¶4. (U) Economically, Anhui lags far behind the other provinces 
in East China.  Most of Anhui's wealth is concentrated in 
industrial regions close to the Yangtze River, such as Hefei, 
Wuhu, and Maanshan.  Anhui's 2006 USD 79.4 billion GDP is 
roughly one-third that of neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu 
provinces.  According to provincial officials, Anhui's average 
income is RMB 2,000 (USD 266) per month, compared with 
approximately RMB 6,000 in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, and 
RMB 8,000 in Shanghai.  When asked by ConOff, local university 
students and school children expressed their hopes to someday 
leave Anhui for Shanghai and (less often) Beijing.  The majority 
of "Mingong" (immigrant workers) in Shanghai come from Anhui to 
be maids, janitors, and work in dangerous high-rise 
construction. 
 
¶5. (U) Efforts by the Central Government to strengthen Anhui's 
economy have been largely unsuccessful.  For example, to promote 
technological development in Anhui, in 1970 the Central 
Government moved the prestigious University of Science and 
Technology of China (USTC) from Beijing to Hefei, Anhui's 
capital.  Unfortunately, according to local officials, USTC 
graduates invariably leave Hefei for employment in Beijing and 
Shanghai, or pursue post-graduate work abroad.  Local officials 
are proud, however, that Anhui produces more refrigerators than 
any other province in China.  (NOTE: Although refrigerators were 
mentioned several times during the visit, Anhui officials made 
no mention of Anhui's most famous corporation: the automobile 
company Chery based in Wuhu, which has recently moved to enter 
the American sub-compact, under USD 10,000 auto market. END 
NOTE.) 
 
GREAT SIGHTS, BAD LOCATION 
-------------------------- 
 
SHANGHAI 00000756  002 OF 003 
 
 
 
¶6. (U) In a bold attempt to look beyond home appliances, Anhui 
is seeking economic advancement through tourism.  As part of the 
tourism festival, local authorities took ConOff to visit Anhui's 
tourist destinations, chief among which is "Huangshan" (Yellow 
Mountain).  Three hours south of Hefei by car, Huangshan is one 
of China's most popular tourist spots and a UNESCO World 
Heritage Site since 1990.  The area is renowned for its scenic 
beauty, jutting granite peaks, and unique "giant Banzai" 
Huangshan pine trees.  Because many of its peaks are above cloud 
level, views of the clouds from above offer beautiful views and 
interesting light-effects, which over the centuries have been 
given wistful names like Sea of Clouds and Buddha's Light. With 
its hot springs, natural pools, and gorges, Huangshan is an 
oft-featured subject of traditional Chinese paintings and 
literature.  A photo gallery of Huangshan's scenic beauty can be 
found here: 
http://www.phototravels.net/china/yellow-moun tains-huangsha 
n.html.  Huangshan is surprisingly popular with South Koreans, with 
direct flights daily to Korea from the relatively small 
Huangshan village airport.  Besides Koreans, ConOff saw no other 
non-Chinese tourists on the mountain. 
 
LOCAL CULTURE, VERY LOCAL CUISINE 
--------------------------------- 
 
¶7. (U) In Yixian County, an hour's drive from Huangshan, lay 
Xidi village and Hongcun village, which together in 2000 became 
the "Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui" UNESCO World Heritage 
Site.  Hongcun was a film location for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden 
Dragon."  Due to the popularity of this Oscar-winning film, 
tourism to these cities has dramatically increased.  The 
architecture and carvings of these cities date back to the Ming 
and Qing dynasties, and are among the best examples of their 
kind in China.  At each of the cities, tourist pay an entrance 
fee of about USD 10, and are free to visit and explore hundreds 
of well-preserved wooden residences with beautiful carvings. 
These residences are still occupied, giving tourists a flavor 
for what life must have been like in these ancient villages. 
 
¶8.  (U) In addition to its cultural heritage, Anhui is very 
proud of its local food, which officials claim as one of the 
eight great traditional Chinese cuisines.  Combining cooking 
elements from throughout Anhui, including the Yixian 
Hui-speaking region, the cuisine is known for its use of river 
fish, wild game, and herbs all prepared in uncomplicated ways. 
ConOff had the dubious privilege of sampling various forms of 
wild game (i.e., frog, hedgehog, snail, and several varieties of 
unnamed innards) prepared in simple ways (most frequently boiled 
for a very, very long time).  ConOff was both impressed and 
puzzled by the differentiation made by locals between ostensibly 
similar dishes (e.g., "boiled stone frog," "boiled field frog," 
"boiled mountain frog," etc.)  When ConOff commented on this 
phenomenon to an official from the Anhui Tourism Council, the 
official thoughtfully responded that perhaps the ConOff had not 
yet developed a refined palate for the nuances of amphibian 
delicacies.  ConOff admitted that this was indeed true, and that 
this handicap apparently extended to a wide variety of snail 
dishes, as well. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶9. (SBU) Anhui tourism officials commented frequently throughout 
the trip that they do not receive many western, particularly 
American tourists.  One especially astute official opined that 
this was because the main draw to Anhui is Huangshan, nicknamed 
the Yosemite of China, which (although unique in China) was 
similar in nature to several national parks in the United 
States.  Americans, he said, don't need to travel to China to 
see impressive mountains; moreover American mountains have ski 
resorts.  While Americans do go to Huangshan, Anhui officials 
noted that the majority of these are (ethnic) Chinese Americans, 
and for the most part older, Chinese-born, naturalized U.S. 
citizens.  ConOff feels many Americans would truly enjoy Xidi 
and Hongcun cities, which despite the cuisine, were truly 
impressive examples of what many Americans expect to see when 
visiting China.  Unfortunately, Anhui is distant from many of 
the typical tourist sites visited by Americans in China: 
Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, etc.  Given the average American's lack 
 
SHANGHAI 00000756  003 OF 003 
 
 
of familiarity with Huangshan, and Anhui in general, it is 
unlikely that American tourism will expand rapidly without 
concerted efforts by Anhui Tourism Officials to promote itself 
among American tourists and travel agencies.  END COMMENT. 
JARRETT