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How does regional tourism promote rural revitalization
2019-05-20Text Size: A A A

Picture of Tourist Service Center in Hengxi Town. (Photographed by Zheng Tuo, Zhu Junbei)

During the May Day holiday, many people in the urban went to the countryside to travel, and the regional tourism gradually became popular, which injected a strong impetus to the rural tourism. Some towns and villages such as Sangzhou Town of Ninghai, Maoyang Town of Xiangshan, Luting Township of Yuyao, Dayan Town of Fenghua , Hengxi town of Yinzhou, Sunhu Lake of Jiangbei, Jiulong Lake of  Zhenhai, Longguan Township of Haishu, Daqi of Beilun and other places have become popular places for citizens to travel.

These towns (regions) have relatively complete tourism facilities and a large number of tourist items, including food, housing, shopping and playing, all of which are “village-level tourism demonstration areas”.

Ningbo takes the lead in promoting regional tourism to towns and villages

In 2015, the National Tourism Department proposed the concept of regional tourism. The 2016 National Tourism Work Conference proposed to evaluate the provincial, city and county level three-level tourism demonstration zones.

In order to extend the regional tourism to the townships and villages, the Ningbo Tourism Department formulated the “Measures for the Administration of the Identification of Village-level Tourism Demonstration Areas” in 2016, which was the first city in the country.

Some villages and towns (regions) with better tourism resources have been actively involved in the establishment of the project and achieved phased results. These towns such as Maoyang Township of Xiangshan, Beishan District of Jiangbei, Datun Town of Fenghua, and Huchen Township of Ninghai were identified as the first demonstration areas in Ningbo; towns such as Jiulonghu Town in Zhenhai, Chunxiao Street in Beilun, and Hengxi Town of Yinzhou, Dayao Town of Yuyao and Sangzhou Town of Ninghai County were identified as the second batch of demonstration areas. In January 2019, four new demonstration areas were added, including Longguan Township of Hashu, Luting Township of Yuyao, Longshan Town of Cixi, and Xinqiao Town of Xiangshan. At present, the city has a total of 13 rural tourism demonstration areas.

What is commendable is that the above towns (regions) which have been successfully established as tourism demonstration zones are still investing in infrastructure, improving tourism environment and increasing tourist items.

Hengxi town has invested nearly 10 million yuan in relevant facilities since 2018 to plan the 1800 mu Phoenix Mountain Rural Tourism Project, which will create the first immersive cinema in township cinemas in the new tourist service center.

With the goal of creating a “B&B Cluster in eastern Zhejiang”, Dalan Town on Siming Mountain has added 2 new homes based on the existing Simingshan Painting and Calligraphy Institute and other boutique homestays.

Xinqiao Town of Xiangshan actively introduces tourism projects and enriches the tourism industry, among which 2 hotels have been put into use, 2 theme hotels have been started, and 5 boutique homestays are being decorated. Projects such as “Oriental fairy” idyllic complex project and township film and television culture business center have been signed.

Longguan Township actively builds the most beautiful roads and the most beautiful streams, as well as tourist service centers, tourist toilets and parking lots, and expands industrial investment. With an additional investment of 30 million yuan, the mountain and river resort is expected to be open this year. “Qingfeng art” oil painting base, which newly invested 15 million yuan, will hold exhibitions in cooperation with China academy of fine arts.

Can Rural Tourism Revitalize the Rural Area?

In December 2018, Dongwu Town of Yinzhou District, Daqi Street of Beilun District and Xiaowangmiao Street of Fenghua District entered into the list of city-level rural tourism demonstration zones.

Recently, a large-scale renovation of Tiantong Old Street, Dongwu Town is under way, like digging underground ditches, repairing old houses on the street with green bricks and black tiles, wooden doors and windows, exquisite eaves, buttress and components...

In 2018, Dongwu Town started the comprehensive environmental renovation project of small towns in Tiantong District. The original architectural elements of Tiantong Old Street were applied to the renovation of street scenery to preserve the original style of the old street. According to reports, the facade renovation of Tiantong Old Street will be completed by the end of August.

“This is an important measure for town-village interaction to comprehensively promote the comprehensive improvement of the environment of small towns and build a global tourism.” The person in charge of Dongwu Town said, Dongwu Town will eventually be built into a quality town suitable for living, industry and tourism.

What is the confidence for Dongwu Town to create a rural tourism demonstration area? The head of tourism in the town said that Dongwu is known as the Millennium town. Tiantong Temple, with a history of more than 1700 years, is an important relic of the Maritime Silk Road. What’s more, Taibai Lake, close to Dongqian Lake, and Tiantong National Forest Park forms a good natural ecology.

In the construction of new countryside, the successive governments of Dongwu Town have kept many nostalgic elements, which are the basis of global tourism. The stone buildings of Qinyong Village, the winding alleys and old drinking wells of Tiantong Old Street, the mountains and forests and fields of Santang Village are all popular with tourists.

Not long ago, Ningbo Travel Investment Company and Beijing Elion Group jointly carried out the tourism development of Qinyong Village with the theme of “health and maintenance”. Among them, an old school in Qinyong Village, which had been abandoned for a long time, was created as a boutique residential quarters “Xiangxu Qinyong”, and business flourished after its opening.

Hualong Village is a quiet small village. Once upon a time, there was an ancient road coming from Zhanqi that raders and passers-by came and went frequently, but nowadays few people pay attention to it. Dongwu Town will focus on creating “Art Hualong”. At present, it is introducing “Wutongli” konghou, an ancient plucked stringed instrument, training base and “Xishan Research and Manufacture” Song and Ming Dynasties household study base cooperating with Pan Tianshou Art College of Ningbo University. In addition, Hualong Village and Santang Village will cooperate with Beida Jade Bird Group to develop residential projects.

“We will recycle the old houses from villagers and rent them to the artists. Once several projects are completed and running, the tranquil Hualong Village will become a paradise full of artistic atmosphere.” The person in charge of Dongwu Town said.

All-for-One Tourism to be Promoted amid Challenges

Experts say that rural tourism is an important driving force for rural revitalization. Rural tourism development dictates building scenic villages, cultivating industries, energizing enterprises, promoting integrated development and exploring mechanism innovation. This mode of tourism will greatly promote industry integration and environmental protection in rural areas.

According to Lu Min, Director of Resource Development Division from Ningbo Culture, Radio, Television and Tourism Bureau, all-for-one tourism in rural area is an important practice as the city adopts a “tourism plus” method to make rural environment cleaner, industries stronger, residents more better-off, resources more energized, and social morals improved. Ultimately, rural areas can gain a bumper harvest of economic, social and ecological benefits.

Yet, challenges abound in promoting rural tourism. At a meeting on encouraging all-for-one tourism demonstration zone construction in the city earlier in April, town leaders discussed over the major challenges facing rural all-for-one tourism. Some areas, located in the upper reaches of water source protection zone, are so highly environmentally protected that tourism development there is restricted. In other areas, the renovation of dilapidated houses and the setting of minimum arable land have limited the development of three industries: agriculture, cultural tourism and property development.

Party and government must make joint efforts, mobilizing villages and towns to advance rural all-for-one tourism, a comprehensive undertaking. However, government in some areas lacks adequate understanding of the tourism mode. In the meantime, some villages as late starters of all-for-one tourism are financially weak with insufficient investment in infrastructure. In addition, towns and villages are short of talents expert in tourism planning, designing and marketing.

Expert observation:

Jiang Wenyi (Director of Rural Tourism Development Research Center of Ningbo Tourism Development Research Institute, Deputy Director of Humanities and Space Design Institute of Ningbo University )

The top priority in rural revitalization is industrial prosperity, the part and parcel of which is rural tourism.

The boom in Ningbo rural all-for-one tourism should be attributed to the forward-looking top-level design by the government. In 2016, Ningbo Tourism Bureau made a pioneering effort in establishing demonstration zones for the tourism mode in rural areas, with clearly-defined goals and standards. Also, a subsidy policy was launched. Since then, rural tourism takes on a sound trend of “accelerated development, optimized lay-out, promoted quality and expanded field”, thus giving strong momentum to rural revitalization.

Undeniably, though, problems exist: shortage in tourism product supply, weakness in infrastructure support, conflicts between policies, inadequacy in policy guarantee, and shortage in talents.

Therefore, we should increase tourism product supply, optimize operation and management of rural tourism, strengthen the tourism system and policy guarantee to push forward rural tourism and ultimately, rural revitalization.

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