BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Tourism has reinvigorated some scenic spots in former backwater areas, creating attractions that are giving a boost to local economies.
Recognised as one of the most important revolutionary bases in China, Yan’an, in Shaanxi province, has been one of the beneficiaries of an emerging Red tourism trend.
Figures from Yan’an’s bureau of culture and tourism show it received over 73 million visitors in 2019, who brought revenue of 49.5 billion yuan (S$10.3 billion) to the city.
Four years earlier it had 40.2 million visitors and earned 22.8 billion yuan from them.
The city’s Red tourism market boomed during the five-day May Day holiday this year, when it received 1.6 million visitors and recorded nearly 1.5 billion yuan in revenue.
Yan’an is home to 445 memorial sites, accounting for 72 per cent of Shaanxi’s Red tourism resources.
Zhao Yanping, a 67-year-old from Lishui, Zhejiang province, said he had been inspired by a visit to the Zaoyuan Revolutionary Site in Yan’an with his wife in early May.
”I’m quite lucky that I was born after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, but I never forget what my father told me about their hard life in the war,” he said.
”He always told me to be grateful to the Party, without whom we could not live such a good life nowadays.
”I told my wife many times that we had to visit Jiaxing Nanhu Lake in Zhejiang and Yan’an after we retired. We visited Nanhu last month and now we are in Yan’an. We’ve learned more about history and our respect for these revolutionaries has increased.”
Yang Guangyuan, director of Yan’an’s publicity department, said its biggest attraction is the spirit that has been passed down by generations of Party members and is now being invigorated by young people.
”The Communist Party of China (CPC) has grown from weak to strong, leading China’s revolution to get out of its plight,” he said.
”The city now has its traditions well protected while looking forward to a vigorous future. We are making efforts to reshape these memorial sites into popular attractions to let visitors have new experiences.”
Visits to Red tourism attractions are expected to rise this year as the CPC celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding.
Their increasing popularity will not only enhance people’s knowledge of Party history, but also bring significant economic benefits.
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A recent report by Qunar, an online travel agency, said over 100 million people visited Red tourism attractions last year, with revenue estimated at 1 trillion yuan.
The economic benefits flow not only to those working for enterprises that cater to tourists, but also to formerly impoverished people living near revolutionary sites who can operate their own Red tourism-related businesses rather than rely on farming for a living.
She Baodong, 41, now runs a homestay in Lijiazhuang village, near Xibaipo－an important revolutionary site in Hebei province.
”I started to work in a city nearby in 2018 but quit the job in June 2019, planning to open a homestay in the village,” he said. “We earn a good income. Last summer, my family of four earned 10,000 yuan, much higher than previously. The business will be better this year, I think.”
Dong Xiaohang, Party secretary of Pingshan county, where Lijiazhuang is located, said the great changes villagers have experienced are due to the region’s rich Red tourism resources.
”The county has over 130 memorial sites, with Xibaipo the most famous one,” he said. “Last year, the whole county received about 17 million visitors.”
He said about 100,000 people visited Xibaipo over the May Day holiday.
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Dong said he was pleased to see more young people visiting Red tourism attractions in recent years, which made him more confident about the industry’s future development.
Young people are showing increasing interest in visiting revolutionary sites. Trip.com Group, another online travel agency, said reservations for such attractions in the first half of this year by people born after 2000 were up 2.5 times compared with the same period in 2019.
Fang Zeqian, a Trip.com analyst, said that as patriotic education becomes more popular, tour packages related to Red tourism will become bestsellers, with young people the main customers.
The author is a writer with the paper. China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.