URUMQI, Jan. 24(Xinhua) -- Tourist arrivals in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region surged 17 percent to reach 52 million last year, regional authorities said on Friday.
Tourism revenues grew seven percent year on year to hit 67.3 billion yuan (about 11.03 billion U.S. dollars) during the period, said the Xinjiang Tourism Bureau.
Direct flights linking the regional capital of Urumqi and Taipei, as well as flights between Turpan and Xi'an, Aksu and Chengdu were launched last year to make it more convenient for tourists to travel to Xinjiang.
Tourism will become one of the leading industries along the Silk Road Economic Belt, which covers western China, central Asia and Europe, according to officials and experts.
A "Silk Road Economic Belt" agreement was signed by 24 cities in eight countries along the Silk Road in November of 2013 to promote greater cooperation, development and prosperity among the countries.
The Silk Road refers to the land trade route opened more than 2,000 years ago when explorer and envoy Zhang Qian was sent west on a diplomatic mission. Starting from the city Chang'an, known today as Xi'an, the ancient road ran through northwest China's Gansu Province, Xinjiang, and Central and Western Asia before reaching the Mediterranean.
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