It's official: Lijiang will be the third city in Yunnan with an international airport.
Lijiang applied to central authorities for permission to become an international air port in 2010 and received initial approval from the State Council in November 2011.
Lijiang's airport will reportedly focus on establishing flight services with at least two destinations beyond mainland China by the end of this year. Likely initial candidates include cities in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand as well as Hong Kong and Singapore.
In addition to its international ambitions, Lijiang is also hoping to establish direct air links with other World Heritage sites in China including Jiuzhaigou, Pingyao, Huangshan, Zhangjiajie and Guilin by 2013.
Lastly, Lijiang's airport is also working on new links to airports around Yunnan, namely Pu'er, Dehong, Tengchong and Wenshan.
Should Lijiang realize all of these short-term goals by the end of this year it will enter 2013 not only as one of China's most popular travel destinations but as an up-and-coming air hub in the country's southwest.
Lijiang is projecting that its airport will have 35 domestic flight routes and five or more international flight routes by 2015, with annual passenger traffic of more than 4 million travelers. In 2011, Lijiang Airport handled nearly 2.2 million travelers.
Lijiang's airport opened in 1995, one year before the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 300 and destroyed many ancient homes and buildings. An outpouring of national sympathy and a major rebuilding effort were followed by Lijiang's inscription on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1997.
Prior to the earthquake, Lijiang was already known by some outside of China from the writings and research of Dr Joseph Rock, the Austria-born American botanist and explorer who lived in the area during parts of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Lijiang was also immortalized in the book Forgotten Kingdom by Russian author Peter Goullart, who lived in Lijiang around the same time.© Copyright 2005-2019 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.