China's commitment to opening itself up as a tourism destination is being backed by airlines across the world as they help make access to the country increasingly easy.
Over the past 12 months, China has established itself as the world's third most-popular travel destination, the 55.7 million visitors the country welcomed in 2011 putting it behind only the numbers enjoyed by France (76.8 million) and the United States (59.75 million), according to the World Tourism Organisation.
The recent WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Las Vegas heard that the country will within the next five years open more than 230 new airports as it tries to increase arrivals -- and there seems no end to the number of airlines ready to service them.
The latest airport in China to expand its services is the one situated in the city of Lijiang, in the northwest of Yunnan province, which at the start of the month began allowing Sichuan Airlines to fly direct to Hong Kong three times a week, for around 1,950 yuan (245 euros) for a return economy-class ticket.
Lijiang sets itself as a hub for China and Asia travel
Lijiang is now promoting itself as a hub for connecting flights to Tibet, Sichuan and Chongqing in the north of China, while also offering connections to Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Macau, Taiwan and India.
And the airport is also planning to help improve access to five of China's UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites by offering flights to Huangshan Mountain, Jiuzhaigou, Zhangjiajie, Guilin and Pingyao Old Town.
The past week has also seen the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou open up its first direct flight to London, thanks to China Southern Airlines. The service is now operating three times a week with a return economy ticket selling for as low as around 3,650 yuan (460 euros), according to the airline.
And the airline is hoping to establish Guangzhou as a hub for those wanting to continue on to Australia, claiming it will provide 110 flights per week to that country by 2015, up from the current number of 42.
Polish Airlines reopens flights to Beijing
The start of the month also saw Polish Airlines re-start its direct service between Warsaw and Beijing after three false starts.
Lack of demand curtailed the airline's ambition plans in 1987, 1989 and 2008 but increased trade between the two countries as Polish Airlines is confident that it is backing a winner.
The service is currently operating three times a week, for around US$1,000 (803 euros) for an economy class return ticket, but the airline hopes to make it daily by November.