The government of Changsha plans to develop the city into an internationally renowned tourist destination by 2020, officials said.
“Changsha, capital of Central China’s Hunan province, is beautiful and very comfortable to live in. I have grown very fond of my life here,” said Gantsooj, a Mongolian student who has spent two years studying Mandarin at Hunan University.
In 2013, more than 1 million tourists from more than 80 countries and regions around the world visited Changsha, according to officials in the city travel administration.
Changsha is a place where ancient heritage sites mingle with modern skyscrapers that stretch up into the clouds.
The Mawangdui Tombs of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), the ancient Yuelu Academy and its copper kiln are testaments to the city’s 3,000-year history.
Local travel officials say one of the city’s highlights is its beautiful natural scenery, which includes national forest parks, such as Dawei Mountain, and key national scenic spots, such as Yuelu Mountain and Juzi Island.
“Changsha city government has added more than 80 community parks in the past three years and 700,000 square meters of green space,” said government officials.
The city also has many varieties of flowers and plants planted in grassy medians along main roads and important areas, so the city appears as if it is in a perpetual state of springtime.
“It takes less than 15 minutes from home to find a park or roadside green space to take a rest, and it’s quite common throughout the city,” said Yi Jingping, member of the Changsha Committee of the CPPCC.
The local government has paid special attention to ecological protection.
“Mountains and water are precious natural resources, and we have to protect them in the process of urban development,” said Zhang Jianfei, the mayor of Changsha.
Zhang also pointed out that it is the responsibility of the government to maintain a good ecological environment.
The city government has built seven wastewater treatment plants over the past five years, and thousands of major restaurants have signed deals with professional companies to dispose of their daily waste, according to government officials.
A 1,200-sq-km area on the west bank of Xiangjiang River was set aside as a model zone for ecological development by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in 2012.
In addition to the desirable ecological conditions, Changsha is also famous for its distinctive cuisine.
“Changsha people are good at enjoying life and eating. I often see girls having various snacks while walking on the street, which is rare in Japan,” said Horio Daijirou, an overseas student here from Japan.
Tucked away in hidden allies, various local specialties draw guests from the four corners of the world.
For instance, Pozi Street has many time-honored brands, such as the Fire Palace, which is 300 years old and famous for its preserved bean curd.
The city’s renowned steamed delicacies, tasty seafood and stewed soup take tourists to new frontiers of flavor.
There is also a food belt along the Xiangjiang River, where tourists can savor local food while taking in the beautiful scenery.
The city government is also promoting cultural development.
The city is home to popular variety shows, such as the Happy Camp, which has been one of the top entertainment programs for 16 years.
The local culture department will also invite various famous artists from China and abroad this year to perform opera, ballet, symphony, Peking opera and acrobatics.
A weekend music and fireworks festival at Juzi Island has become a famous celebration nationwide.
Other events, such as the first natural ecology expo and the Sakura celebration, are a special treat for tourists.
Moreover, the city’s foot massage service is something that tourists should not miss out on.
Chinese traditional medicine practitioners recommend soaking feet in hot water, which is a hit with local people.
The local government has also gone abroad to promote its travel industry and has set up offices in such countries as Australia, South Korea and Japan to offer services, officials said.
Cao Lijun, Party chief of Liuyang, welcomes visitors from around the world to the city, known as China’s fireworks capital.
Liuyang is a county-level city governed by Changsha.
There is also a very famous song named Liuyang River, composed in 1950, which helps the city beckon numerous visitors.
A karaoke favorite, the song is about the river and the nearby village of Shaoshan, where Chairman Mao Zedong was born.
The Dawei Mountain National Forest Park, a national 4A scenery area, is located in Liuyang.
It has the largest Rhododendron area in Central China.
The Aiwan Pavilion, built in 1792 on Yuelu Mountain, was the subject of many famous ancient poems and also a favorite spot of Chairman Mao Zedong.
Dawei Mountain in Liuyang, a city governed by Hunan’s capital Changsha, has the largest Rhododendron area in Central China.
A statue of Chairman Mao Zedong, a Hunan native, was erected on Juzi Island in the city. Zhou Baiping / for China Daily
Cao Lijun (second from right), Party chief of Liuyang, known as China’s firework capital, inspects a project site on Dawei Mountain. Photos Provided to China Daily