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Tourists can taste authentic halal food in Ningxia, as the autonomous region is home to more than 2 million Muslims. Provided to China Daily

The Ningxia Hui

autonomous region is the smallest of China's five autonomous regions but has much to offer tourists.

Its desert is a key tourist resource in the region in Northwest China. The Shahu Lake scenic spot, 56 kilometers from the capital city Yinchuan, offers stunning views of sand, water, reeds, birds, mountains and lotuses.

Located in the junction where the Tengger Desert meets the Yellow River, Shapotou is reputed to be one of the most wonderful places in China. The country's first desert railway, the Baotou-Lanzhou railway, passes through the tourist attraction.

Ningxia is one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization and its cultural elements include the Yellow River, the Great Wall, the ancient Silk Road and the Western Xia Dynasty (1038-1227).

The Western Xia Imperial Tombs and China Western Film Studios, representing the past and present of Ningxia's culture, are must-visit sites for tourists.

The Islamic culture also attracts tourists to Ningxia, where Muslims account for more than 30 percent of the total population. Visitors can go to the Chinese Hui Cultural Park, a historic and cultural museum of the Hui ethnic group, experience the daily life of local Muslims in a village in Wuzhong city and enjoy halal food.

Ningxia hosted the China-Arab States Tour Operators Conference 2015 in September. The Ningxia Tourism Bureau said that to better serve Muslim participants, seven days of training in Muslim reception manners and Arabic service language was organized for tourist destinations and hotels before the conference.

Xu Xiaoping, chief of the bureau, said Ningxia would develop Muslim tourism services and build itself into a tourist destination for visitors from Arabic countries and Muslim regions.

Li Shihong, deputy chief of the China National Tourism Administration, said at the conference that the administration values the development of the domestic Muslim tourism market and would support Ningxia to take measures in aspects such as reducing language barriers to boost the market.

The tourism revenue of Ningxia amounted to 16.1 billion yuan ($2.46 billion) in 2015, a year-on-year rise of more than 13 percent. Tourism has become an engine of economic development in the autonomous region, local officials said.

Countryside tourism developed well last year and earned 269 million yuan. It directly provided 10,000 jobs and indirectly accounted for 70,000 more in 2015.

Ningxia had opened international air routes connecting Yinchuan to regions including Seoul, Bangkok, Osaka, Singapore and Dubai by the end of last year.

It will host a high-level tourism dialogue event between China and the United States in September. It also plans to invite US and Canadian travel agencies to participate in a conference at the event and visit the region, which was among 46 places to go recommended by the New York Times in 2013.

An international driving tour organized by the Ningxia government and some other organizations will begin in September. It will start from Yinchuan and cross more than 20 cities in China, Pakistan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The event will last more than one month and explore relics along the Silk Road.

 Region has much to offer tourists

Tourists ride camels to tour the Shapotou scenic area. Provided to Chihna Daily

(China Daily 03/03/2016 page10)