Xi’an (1995-2005) [Narrative] Local Government as a PROMOTER – Branding the City

One of the roles that was taken up (as assigned by the central government’s nationwide policies) by the local Xi’an government and planners is the promoter of its heritage and culture. In order to kick start “the 1995 plan”, Xi’an has gone through much lengths to guarantee that the objectives are met. These objectives shed light on the following: 1) to protect the old town; 2) to lower the building density; 3) to improve the central area; 4) to apply the compact-city idea; 5) to develop peripheral satellite towns; and 6) to improve the environment (Xi’an Municipal Urban Planning and Management Bureau and Xi’an Municipal Urban Planning and Design Institute, 1998).

All of the objectives aimed to establish Xi’an’s city image as undoubtedly and upmost “historic”, and it would be more appealing to the tourism market as it becomes more tourist-friendly. Historic values of the city (especially the hardware of heritage sites) were harnessed since the discovery and actualisation of the income potential of heritage sites. This marked the beginning the process of reorganising the city’s transportation and layout to facilite a smoother flow of tourists, and also appealing to the potential visitors from the rest of China and even the world. With the use of ads, slogans, curated tours, redesigned transport system and easy access to remote heritage sites, Xi’an gradually positioned itself on the tourism market step by step. The government was essentially branding and packaging itself to put Xi’an on China as well as the world’s map as being a must-see historic city, and quite successfully so. Some of the more effective measures taken include receiving UNESCO’s top tier grading as recognition, and also significantly beautifying and exercising concise control on the cityscape (Feighery, 2008) to match with its branded image. Another would be by upholding its reputation by continuously improve on the tourists experience in the city by prioritising it in the city planning schemes.

1. Frighery, W. (2008). Heritage Tourism in Xi’an: Constructing the Past in Contested Space. In: J. Cochrane, ed., Asian Tourism: Growth and Change. Boston: Elsevier Ltd., pp.323–334.

2. Xi’an City Overall Plan 1995-2020: Written Statement (draft) (Mimeo). XI’AN MUNICIPAL URBAN PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT BUREAU (1983), Xi’an Overall Plan 1980-2000: Written Statement (Mimeo).

1 Comment on “Xi’an (1995-2005) [Narrative] Local Government as a PROMOTER – Branding the City

  1. It is an comprehensive narrative which tells clearly about the Xi’an governments efforts to establish the city’s reputation as a historic center. You mentioned that the government tried a lot to do the tourism propaganda as well as to improve the tourists experience like providing easy access to historic sites. I think that may explain well why lots of Chinese cities with a long history together with historic relics struggle to take use of them as an attraction for tourists but failed or not that successful. The culture heritage as software itself is not enough for tourists. The hardware such as infrastructure and friendly attitude of tourism service staff do have an significant influence as well. Urban planning needs such details to make the city attractive though it is quite hard to enact a new policy and have it filter down to the bottom.

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