With the possibility of a new Tianjin Airlines route between Gatwick and Xi’an at some stage, and a fledgling partnership between Wendy Wu Tours and the Shaanxi Provincial Tourism Development Commission, clients should be able to access and explore this historically rich destination more
easily than ever. Andrew Doherty reports.
More than 2,000 years ago, Qin Shi Huang of the Shaanxi province conquered China’s Warring States to become the nation’s first emperor. An era of Chinese expansion followed, with drastic political and economic reforms coming to fruition. After a futile search for an elixir of immortality and sensing his impending death, Qin Shi Huang constructed the Terracotta Army – a collection of 8,000 life-sized sculptures to protect him in the afterlife.
I spoke to Wendy Wu, owner of the China specialist operator, who said the company was developing new Shaanxi itineraries that will focus on traditional Chinese medicine and nature tourism. The tours will be available to sell in 18 months’ time.
Wu offered more detail on the medicinal packages, saying they would focus on providing help for clients with insomnia, hay fever and hair loss.
“I suffered from insomnia 10 years ago and tried everything – nothing worked. During a trip to China I got to know a Chinese medicine specialist. After I took one portion of his concoction I was sound asleep. I used the remedy for 15 days and didn’t have the problems again.”
The operator will also be the first to gain access to the world’s largest panda reserve, part of which will be in the Shaanxi province; it is currently under construction and expected to open in three years.
“The park will be seven times the size of Yellowstone in the US. To spot a wild panda is very difficult as they are quite rare; we want to help clients see one. Once the park is open we will start adding it to our new itineraries,” Wu said.
Wu also revealed plans to offer clients an exclusive historical visit to the Qianling Mausoleum.
“We will be the first UK operator to access the tomb of Wu Zetian. She was China’s first legitimate female empress. Her tombstone has no inscription because she felt, as a woman, people would say all sorts of things. The clients will visit the grounds of the tomb and take in all of the statues. It’s quite a surreal experience.”
In order to educate the trade on the Shaanxi product, Wendy Wu Tours will run roadshows later this year.
With Shaanxi’s fascinating history and immense natural beauty, the province is sure to pique customers’ interest and agents will now have some intriguing options to offer.