Tourists observe frost on pine trees on Huangshan Mountain, or Yellow Mountain, in Anhui province on Oct 17, 2021. (HOU YAN / FOR CHINA DAILY)

Efforts have been accelerated in Huangshan, Anhui province, to attract more investment and talent from home and abroad, which are expected to boost the city's economic development and China's higher level of opening-up, the city's top official said.

Sun Yong, mayor of Huangshan, said that the city cannot rely economically only on its world-famous Yellow Mountain, which has been listed as a UNESCO cultural and natural heritage, as well as a World Geopark site.

"To drive higher-quality development, more efforts have been and will be made to appeal for more investments in emerging industries for industrial upgrading and economic development," Sun said.

The city has formulated a series of supporting policies for technological innovations in new and high-tech industries and for domestic and foreign investment, he said. The city also has set up 11 funds, including an investment fund for green development of the Xin'anjiang River, a fund to help guide strategic and emerging industries as well as an investment fund for the creative, cultural and tourism enterprises.

"A sound, municipal-level equity investment system has been set up here. All of these funds are able to allocate high-quality resources and capital for companies," Sun said. "These funds are asked to support the entire growth cycle of companies, which will assure entrepreneurs who want to invest in the city of a sound and very supportive business environment."

A group of Fortune 500 companies, including London-based consumer products giant Unilever and French industrial conglomerate Saint-Gobain SA and leading Chinese companies such as tech giant Alibaba Group and financial services company China UnionPay, have set up branches in the city.

This year, agreements on more than 52 projects with a total investment of 20.79 billion yuan ($3.27 billion) were inked during the city's annual development forum.

Many of the projects are focused on emerging industries that are expected to bring greater vitality to the city, such as digital creativity, healthcare, new materials and green flexible packaging, Sun said.

"Talent is also crucial to rejuvenating a city," he said. "Huangshan has hired over 20 industry leaders and well-known entrepreneurs as development consultants."

Among them are Shan Jixiang, former curator of the Palace Museum in Beijing, and Bao Xinhe, president of University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province.

Sun said that the city also has worked with industry experts and scholars from Renmin University of China in Beijing, Zhejiang University and Nanjing University on projects in industrial development, innovation, global tourism and rural revitalization.

"These experts have offered many new ideas and plans for the city and helped bring in resources from home and abroad. They play a pivotal role in the city's high-quality economic and social development," he added.

Huangshan, now known to tourists worldwide, had few visitors or infrastructure before Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of China's reform and opening-up, visited the city in 1979 and encouraged local officials to develop tourism to improve locals' lives.

"Huangshan started from scratch to become a benchmark city for the country's tourism and a vivid symbol of China's reform and opening-up," Sun said.

To facilitate its growth, the city inaugurated more than 20 domestic and charter flights, including flights to South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. More than 10 high-speed railways and 10 highways have been built or are under construction. Over 3 million tourists from other countries and regions visited Huangshan each year before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States was the largest source of overseas tourists, followed by Japan and Europe.

"But the city never halted its efforts to open wider to the outside world. A major goal for the upcoming years is to build a city that is ecologically progressive, internationalized and a destination for world-class leisure and tourism," Sun said.