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Exquisite Beauty of Mt. Huashan is an Ever-growing Draw for China’s Tourism Market

February 8, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

With the arrival of the Chinese lunar new year, the positive feedback following the upgrade of the Mt. Huashan scenic area in China’s Shaanxi province through the standardization of the area’s management structure is having strong repercussions after word of these changes spread throughout the province.

At the same time, the research group on smart tourism at Beijing University as well as the City and Tourism Institute of Fenghuang jointly released The research report on the image and branding of China’s major resorts entitled National 5A Tourist Attractions Internet Index (NTAII), in which Mt. Huashan ranks No.1 among the county’s 5A-rated tourism destinations with 87.73 points in terms of its online image, and No.1 with 100 points in terms of general online visibility. With the message having spread so widely, Mt. Huashan is once again garnering attention.

Mt. Huashan, known for its boulder-strewn landscape, is in the middle of a historic breakthrough as the management committee of the famous scenic spot adopts international standards for its development in a move to transform the resort into an international tourist destination.

The transformation of Mt. Huashan – from unguarded and dangerous steep ledges to a model of modern 250x250management

Mt. Huashan, the westernmost of the Five Mountains, is a famous scenic spot in the Qinling Mountains located in the center of China. The Qinling Mountain range, a series of mountains geographically separating the north ofChina from the south, has been referred to as the Father Mountain of China since ancient times. Mt. Huashan, a unique and particularly beautiful mountain in the range, is largely made up of granite. The five mountains, each rising several thousand feet, are noted not only for their steepness of ascent but also for their majestic tall and straight outline.

Mt. Huashan has been known for the steepness of ascent and the treacherousness of its trails since ancient times. While the martial arts tale in “Duel of Hua Shan,” a fictional account of a battle on the famous mountain by writer Jin Yong, excites thousands of fans, the poem “the stone serves as lotus, the cloud serves as table” penned by Li Po has another take on the magnificent scenery at the mountain’s peak. When you see Mt. Huashan for the first time, you can imagine the difficulties anyone assigned to manage this magnificent piece of rock must face.

Over the years, the party, the government at all levels and the management committee in charge of Mt. Huashan have expended a massive effort to properly manage the renowned tourist spot. Nevertheless, problems related to the inherent treacherousness of the trails and the sheer steepness of the terrain continue to surface. Recently, after Mt. Huashan was included in the first batch of standard tourism demonstration spots, the measures taken to standardize operations at the mountain have been a big step forward for the management committee.

According to Huo Wenjun, director of the management committee of Mt. Huashan Scenic Spot, the committee implemented a series of international standardization protocols including the ISO9001 management system, the ISO14000 environmental management system and the OH-SAS18001 occupation health safety management system, all of which were executed taking into account the area’s unique features after being broken down into 97 specific requirements covering environment, service and management. The Mt. Huashan tourism standardization system is now in place, encompassing 343 distinct standards according to the unique features of the locale, with an improved service system based on the feedback from previous visitors to the area and with an emergency rescue team set up to be available and able to deal with any situation in line with the committee’s plan to remain open during all types of weather. The focus on improving not only the quality of the environment but also the level of service while making sure the management plan took into account the sheer size of the scenic area has all paid off with an observably more attractive resort and improved level of visitor satisfaction.

When you step into the tourist service center at Mt. Huashan, you will not be able to miss the improvements. Behind the scenes and invisible to the site’s visitors is the secret to the successful management of the area: the Mt. Huashan Comprehensive Scheduling Command Center, set up with cutting-edge intelligence. The building is not only the command center of the scenic spot, but also the exhibition and monitoring center for the area’s environment, quality of service and visitor satisfaction.

When seated at a console in the command center, management staff in charge of monitoring can, in real time, view 76 locales scattered across the tourism area’s five mountains including main scenic spots and key roads, and in doing so, can control the number of tourists arriving at or transiting through any locale through management of the available transport. Furthermore, the comprehensive level of monitoring assures ongoing assessment of the environment and services being provided at each location and the ability to act quickly and dispatch additional personnel in a timely manner to any site when extra help is needed.

The 50 million yuan (approximately $US 8.3 million) comprehensive command and control system, is made up of 139 high definition surveillance cameras, 76 transmitters, 44 voice intercoms, 23 inquiry and complaint stations, 6 emergency alarm points, 3 first responder medical stations and 2 emergency vehicles, ensuring the safety of all visitors to the resort. These combined efforts resulted in a record number of tourists visiting the area during last year’s national holiday with not a single complaint or mishap.

Great changes at Mt. Huashan – from a single path to an extended loop trail

The movie “Circumvent Hua Mountain,” produced by Beijing Film Studio in 1953, recreated the historical events that took place in 1949 when the People’s Liberation Army defeated the remnants of the Nationalist forces at Mt. Huashan. The scenes that depict several of the resort’s most well-known spots left a profound impression on many moviegoers, who then decided to visit the places where the actual battles took place.

Mt. Huashan has repeatedly upgraded its infrastructure. Although the addition of aerial tramways to North Mountain went a long way in improving the congestion along the hiking trails between the five mountains, visitors had to backtrack to North Mountain each time in order to travel between any of the other four mountains. As a result, for a long time tourists simply chose to view the other four mountains from North Mountain, and, if they chose to go any further, the furthest they would venture was to Canglongling. This caused all the visitors to the resort to remain confined within a small area, causing frustration among visitors and tourists alike. The resulting congestion also increased the security risk.

In April, 2013, the opening of an aerial tramway at West Mountain finally added a historic new path. The conveyance, the world’s first digitally managed automated tramway with the landing station at the top cut right into a cliff and a rising and falling aerial route in the shape of a “W,” finally connected the base of West Mountain to its peak. The addition of the tramway not only created a loop, doing away with the need to backtrack over the same trail to visit each mountain, but also linked Huashanyu, Xianyu and Wengyu. This has vastly expanded the area of Mt. Huashan scenic area that can be easily visited.

When the 52-million-yuan (approximately $US 8.7 million) West Mountain tramway opened, the Huashan expansion project including 8 newly established pathway grids, 14 widened hiking trails, 12 viewing platforms at the cost of 55.8 million yuan (approximately $US 9.3 million) opened at the same time. The completion of the two projects consequently allowed visitors to ascend at West Mountain and descend at North Mountain, while the main area expansion projects including the pathway grids and viewing platforms drastically increased visitor capacity and provided easy access for children and senior citizens. The change not only alleviated the stress felt by visitors and vastly reduced waiting times but also eased congestion, all of which amounted to a historic improvement in the overall management of the tourist spot. On Oct. 2, 2013, a record 47,000 tourists visited in one day. With the infrastructure improvements in place, there was no congestion, no waiting in line and no complaints filed at any of the inquiry stations. The management committee of Mt. Huashan had finally achieved what they had been striving for, true customer satisfaction among all the visitors to the famed resort.

Great changes continued – from a basic scenic area to Greater Mt. Huashan

Mt. Huashan, 120 km away from the historic city of Xi’an and near Henan and Shanxi provinces, is the eastern portal of Shaanxi province’s tourism industry and the top attraction of Weinan. After the government of the province proposed the “eastern portal strategy,” the importance of Mt. Huashan and the Weinan region became obvious. The concept of a “Greater Mt. Huashan” area was evident and the strategy started to be implemented.

In 2013, Weinan’s municipal government released several proposals to implement the strategy through the development of Greater Mt. Huashan as a tourist destination and to assure its popularity by equipping the resort with the most advanced and efficient level of service, a wide array of tourism options for visitors and the best underlying infrastructure. In the first year following implementation, 3.5 million tourists visited the site, bringing in more than 3 billion yuan (approx. $US 500 million).

The area encompassed by Greater Mt. Huashan includes Tongguan, Dali and Heyang, as well as Huaxian in Weinan proper, each a site with great tourism potential due to their ample historical and cultural value. Nevertheless, as of yet, the market awareness and infrastructure of the sites are not satisfactory. Mt. Huashan’s tourism officials still have a lot of work to do in order to refurbish each of these sites and to create the necessary “brand” awareness.

In the same year, Huashan completed 6 municipal projects in which it invested approximately 423 million yuan($US 70.5 million) with plans to invest a further 258 million ($US 43 million). The Huashan Museum has already been opened to the public, while Xianyu ecological square as well as a promenade with facilities for tourists and the Qingxin hot springs project are now under construction. The design of the Wengyu tourist center, Beidouliang and the Liangzhangshan promenade are finished while the Huashan International Resort Center and the Huashan International Exhibition Center have respectively received 210 million yuan ($US 35 million) and 90 million yuan ($US 15 million) in investment. At present, both the sewage and power grids are being upgraded, an underground communication cable network is under construction and the site selection and design of Huashan regional airport has been completed. Meanwhile, during the same year, Huashan confirmed investment of 220 million yuan ($US 37 million) for the 3 projects.

In order to expand awareness and name recognition of the resort, Huashan held over 20 events including the International Photography Competition and the Mountain-climbing Competition, several tourism promotional events with the theme of “Chinese Dream — Affection for Huashan” held in 9 cities including Beijing, Shanghai,Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Taiyuan, Zhengzhou and Hong Kong, at which more than 34,000 entrance tickets to the scenic spot with a total value of 5.28 million yuan ($US 880,000) were given away. Meanwhile, cultural and tourism products with a Huashan theme have moved into a new stage of development. While Huashan Tourism Group was successfully listed among the “Top ten cultural companies in Shaanxiprovince,” marketing campaigns raising the awareness of Mt. Huashan have been rolled out in 38 countries. In 2013, the traditional Huashan Lao Opera of the Weinan region was a sensation at a performance of the Intangible Cultural Heritage collection held by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. The performance has been selected by the committee deciding the agenda for the Spring Festival Gala aired during the Chinese New Year on CCTV, China’s nationwide television network, with audiences nationwide viewing the spectacular performance on this highly-watched holiday program.

Thanks to this series of improvements undertaken and efficiently executed by the Mt. Huashan management committee, the name recognition and “brand” awareness of the Mt. Huashan area is expanding. In the future, the ever improving Huashan is sure to bring more surprises.

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