'Red tourism' helping revive travel industry
Editor's Note: Thanks to China's rapid economic development and rising individual incomes, Chinese tourists have been traveling across the globe and contributing to the local economies. But the pandemic-induced restrictions on foreign travel have prompted tourists to turn to domestic historic and cultural sites, writes a veteran journalist with China Daily in the fourth of a series of commentaries.
Thanks to its diverse topography and climate and 5,000-year-old civilization, China has beautiful scenic, and historical and cultural sites. About 2,000 tourism tourist sites are open to the public with another 8,000 more worth to be explored.
Many of the historical sites are of great significance to the Communist Party of China, which marked the 100th anniversary of its founding on July 1. The Party's call to its 95 million members and the Chinese people as a whole to learn from the history and development of the CPC has inspired an increasing number of people to visit such sites, which has boosted "red tourism" and is helping revive the tourism sector.
During this year's Qingming Festival on April 3-5, about 102 million domestic tourist visits were recorded, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. And the data released by TongchengeLong, an online travel agency, showed 15.6 percent of flight bookings were for "red tourism" destinations.
More important, most of the tourists visiting such sites are youths. Proud of the country's great achievements, they are eager to learn more about the Party and its history－about how it developed from a secret organization formed in Shanghai on July 1, 1921, into the world's largest ruling party.
They want to know how the CPC managed to survive innumerable hardships, including the Long March, to win the wars against the much stronger Japanese aggressors and Kuomintang to establish the People's Republic in 1949. They also want to know how the CPC, within a few decades, transformed China from a poor country into the world's second-largest economy.
Some of the tourists visiting these sites are Party members. But an overwhelming number of the tourists visiting such sites want to know where the Party drew its inspiration and strength from and to enjoy the beautiful sceneries around the sites. To avoid attacks from the stronger Japanese and Kuomintang armies, the CPC built its bases mostly in remote areas surrounded by nature.
During the Qingming Festival this year, Jinggangshan in Jiangxi province, received 34,700 tourists who spent nearly 23 million yuan ($3.55 million) there. The mountainous area is regarded as one of the cradles of the Chinese revolution. Chairman Mao Zedong and his comrades, after the counter revolution in 1927, withdrew to the area and set up a people's government there, and stayed there until 1934 when they embarked on the Long March.
Similar tourist influxes has been reported in places such Yan'an in Shaanxi province and Xibaipo in Hebei province. After the Long March, the Party had its headquarters in Yan'an for 12 years, from where it fought the Japanese aggressors as well as Kuomintang troops. The city is home to 440 sites of the CPC's revolutionary activities and boasts 30 revolution-themed museums, attracting thousands of visitors each day.
Located on the Loess Plateau, Yan'an also has many ancient pagodas and cliff inscriptions, the famous Hukou waterfall and a rich cultural heritage. All these attractions are more than enough to keep tourists busy and happy for a few days.
Xibaipo in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, is a village in the Taihang Mountain which draws thousands of visitors each day. Between 1948 and 1949, the CPC Central Committee camped in the village before marching to Beijing to found the People's Republic. It was from the small farmers' houses in the village that Mao and other Party leaders guided the People's Liberation Army to defeat millions of Kuomintang troops.
There are hundreds of such revolutionary sites across China, each telling a story or stories of the Party's achievements. Unlike many scenic spots where the entrance fees are very high, the entry to such sites are either free or cost a small amount.
These places have played a vital role in promoting nationalism. A poll conducted by Edelman Global International Public Relations last July showed that more than 90 percent of the Chinese people are satisfied with their government's performance, the highest in the world. Perhaps their decision is based on the Party's great achievements and its mission to serve the people and make efforts to realize national rejuvenation.
The author is former deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily.
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