This aerial photo taken on Sept. 6, 2023 shows the Desert Star Hotel in Shapotou District of Zhongwei City, northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)
YINCHUAN, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — The desert scenery of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region proved a hit with visitors over the eight-day long Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday break, reflecting the success of the region’s investment into tourism and environmental protection.
“This is my first time seeing a desert, and it is more splendid and interesting than I imagined,” said a tourist surnamed Zhang, who made her maiden trip from east China‘s Zhejiang Province to Ningxia.
Zhang and her son quenched their thirst for adventure with camel rides and sledding across the sand dunes in Yinchuan City, while the unique sight of water and sand blending at Shahu (Sand Lake) scenic area in Shizuishan City gave them food for thought.
“I had heard the saying ‘You haven’t truly visited Ningxia until you’ve seen its deserts.’ Although there were lots of tourists and long queues during the holiday, we enjoyed our tours a lot,” said Zhang.
The picturesque scenery and popular tourist attractions, however, were once unimaginable.
Ningxia covers an area of just 66,400 square km yet its surrounding deserts, the Tengger, Mu Us, and Ulan Buh, meant it suffered from the most severe desertification in China.
Over the years, with the help of the “straw checkerboard barrier” approach, successive generations have worked to stabilize the shifting sands, creating favorable conditions for the tourism development.
Today, the region boasts a plethora of scenic spots, including the Shapotou National Reserve and the Shahu scenic area, both of which are designated as a 5A scenic sites, the top level.
To welcome enthusiastic tourists during the long holiday, various desert tourist attractions in Ningxia launched diverse activities, allowing tourists from all over the country to truly experience the joy of desert tourism.
The Shahu scenic area integrated cultural and recreational activities with the natural scenery, with offerings including an exotic circus, night market, and star-gazing camp.
“We have also added many sunshades and other service facilities to provide tourists with a safe, convenient, and comfortable environment during the holiday,” said Wang Xiaoting, deputy general manager of Ningxia Sand Lakes Tourism Co., Ltd.
The Shapotou National Reserve offered free admission to special groups like those aged 60 and above, medical workers and military personnel or ex-servicemen, and waived parking fees.
As night falls, the Tengger Desert sheds its daytime heat, and the starry sky transforms the desert scenery. In Zhongwei City, where Shapotou National Reserve is located, high-end vacation products, such as star-gazing hotels and lodges along the Yellow River, capitalize on this unique natural blessing.
The booming desert travel rush has helped revive tourism in Ningxia. During the period, Ningxia received nearly 4.9 million domestic tourists, generating tourism revenue of 4.09 billion yuan (about 560 million U.S. dollars), an increase of 18.82 percent and 35.1 percent respectively, compared to the same period in 2019, according to the regional culture and tourism department.