Chengdu and its famed giant pandas ready to welcome visitors

Southwest China's Chengdu City and its famous giant pandas are now ready to welcome foreign tourists again as the country's borders reopen after three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The capital of Sichuan Province is not only known for its giant pandas but also stunning scenery, flavorful food and priceless historical artifacts, all of which make it a popular destination for international travelers.

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is an unmissable destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. It is home to a number of celebrity pandas, including 2-year-old He Hua and her twin brother He Ye.

The adorable He Hua is known for her distinctive features – a short jaw, sharp muzzle and rotund figure. She has over 560,000 followers on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform, while one of her YouTube videos has garnered more than 134,000 views.

Her popularity has seen the research base's ticket sales rocket, increasing ninefold for the first two weeks of March compared with the figure last year, making the base the most popular tourist site in Sichuan.

The number of foreign tourists in Sichuan reached 3 million in 2019, having risen for seven consecutive years. But numbers crashed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, after China announced a temporary suspension on foreigners entering China in March 2020.

With the pandemic easing, China announced normalized entry requirements for foreign visitors and tourists from March 15. Foreigners with valid visas issued before March 28, 2020, are allowed to visit China again.

Visa offices abroad have resumed issuing all types of Chinese visas for foreigners, while travel agencies and the government in Chengdu are ready for a new wave of tourists.

"We have created many routes, including panda tours, ancient Shu culture and so on. Currently our tourist guides can speak a variety of languages, including English, Japanese, Russian, French and so on," said Shao Dan, deputy general manager of the Chengdu China Youth Travel Service.

"All of our hardware facilities are multilingual, our community and various tourism reception units all have a certain level of foreign language ability, to provide better services for our international friends," said Wei Chunfeng, director of Bureau of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Chengdu's Longquanyi District.

Chengdu will host the 31st Summer World University Games in July, with authorities hoping an influx of competitors and supporters will drive the continuing recovery of tourism in the region.

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