The full name of the area is Haixi Tibetan and Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, which itself is an administrative unit of Qinghai Province.
Formerly closed to outsiders and very difficult to access due to lack of road and railway connections, for many years this spectacular wilderness has been a terra incognita, but tourism is now a priority for the development of the area.
Haixi consist of three distinct ecotones – the Qaidam Basin in the northern part, the Tibetan Plateau, and the Kunlun Mountains, each offering unique attractions and holding great potential for tourism and outdoor recreation.
Qaidam Basin is hyper arid, lying at the altitude of approximately 3000m, a mixture of desert and saline lakes and salt flats. The desert abounds in beautiful landforms – hoodoos, also known as yardangs. Some, located inside lakes, are known as “floating yardangs”, and are a signature sight of Haixi.
One of the main attractions of Haixi are the spectacular salt formations on its many lakes. The landscape of the most famous lake, Chakayan, have been compared with Bolivia’s famed Salar de Uyuni salt flats and has therefore a tremendous tourism potential, which the domestic tourism market has just started to exploit.
Another attraction of Haixi, the 6000m Kunlun Mountains, are located in the South of the Prefecture. This area supports great biodiversity and is becoming a hotbed for adventure tourism and especially wildlife photography – Kunlun Mountains are home to snow leopard, brown bear, argali sheep, and a great diversity of bird species.
In addition, many ancient and spectacular Buddhist monasteries are located in Haixi, reflecting the faith of its inhabitants – Mongols and Tibetans.
The Government has designated tourism as one of priority, or “dragon head” industries for the development of the region, setting up ambitious targets and providing ample support and infrastructure construction to enable these plans to be realized, a process Xingzhi are a core part of.
The targets set by the People’s Government of Qinghai Province (that Haixi is part of) are a 15% increase in tourism revenue, with 39 million visits to be achieved by 2020, and tourism to account for at least 5% of the GDP of the province by the same date. The strategy for such development puts forward the establishment of infrastructure for climbing, trekking, mountaineering, cycling and off-road driving activities.
Xingzhi have provided the government with a comprehensive marketing strategy for Haixi, creating a “Planet Qaidam” brand, a name inspired by the out-worldly landscapes found in the Prefecture. The strategy involves detailed driving routes and destinations for 4×4 enthusiasts (very popular in China), sports events (and associated brands) that can be held in the Prefecture, and a survey of cultural sites as well as outdoor recreational locations (for example white water resources) that can be then marketed to both domestic and foreign tourists.
As required by Chinese law and political realities, Xingzhi are authorized by the local Government to market and operate the tourism and outdoor packages created by the company using the resources of the Prefecture, granting access to these resources and locations.