Chengdu becomes first city in western China to adopt tax-refund policy for overseas tourists.
A favored destination in China for European tourists, Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, has become the first city in western China to adopt tax-refund policies for overseas travelers.
Its adoption of the policy, which went into effect on Jan 1, follows Beijing and Shanghai as one of the second batch of cities in China to offer the refunds.
The move is part of the city's efforts to become a global tourist destination, a campaign it mapped out last year.
Thirty-three stores have been selected to offer the tax refunds. Overseas tourists can receive an 11-percent refund if their total purchase is worth 500 yuan ($76.90) or more at a single appointed shop when they leave the airport.
The tax-refund policy is expected to accelerate the city's globalization, implement its opening-up strategy and boost its efforts to become a global tourist destination and shopping paradise.
In the first 11 months of 2015, the city's Shuangliu International Airport handled 520,000 overseas passengers. Last year, 42 million passengers transited through the airport, making it the fourth airport in China with total annual passengers above 40 million.
A two-step strategy
In its tourism strategy released last year, the city emphasized two major steps: to become a tourist destination in western China and transform itself from a regional tourist site to an international destination.
In the strategy, the city said it expects its tourism shopping, services and marketing to meet international standards. It also aims to sustain its position as a favored Asian tourist destination while offering top-level tourism services, cultural goods and cross-regional cooperation opportunities across the continent.
Chengdu Tourism Bureau officials said the newly approved tax-refund policy is part of the city's efforts to ensure that its services meet the demands of international tourists.
The move will help the sales of tourism goods and enhance the city as a tourism brand, they said.
By the end of December, the city had opened 85 international airline routes with direct airlines to 71 cities and regions. Forty-one international cargo service airlines are currently operational.
City officials said it wants to open three new international cargo airline routes each year with the goal of having 55 in service by the end of 2020.
"The next 10 years will witness Chengdu's greatest progress in developing tourism. The sector is expected to generate a combined 1 trillion yuan annually," said Shi Peihua, director of the National Tourism Innovation Project Center and a member of the China Tourism Reform and Development Consultation Committee.