WLO aims to im­prove leisure scene in China

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By ZHU LIXIN and MA CHENGUANG in Xuancheng, Anhui

Con­tact the writ­ers at zhulixin@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

The World Leisure Or­ga­ni­za­tion ( WLO) is work­ing to pro­mote healthy liv­ing in China’s small cities and towns by en­cour­ag­ing more peo­ple to take part in leisure ac­tiv­i­ties.

Zhou Li­jun, a mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors at WLO and a sports ex­pert from Zhe­jiang Univer­sity, said that while China’s econ­omy h=as im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly over the years, peo­ple’s health have gen­er­ally de­te­ri­o­rated as there is now an in­creas­ing num­ber of cit­i­zens fac­ing prob­lems such as di­a­betes and heart dis­eases.

Roger Coles, chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors at WLO, as well as sev­eral other mem­bers from the or­ga­ni­za­tion said that hav­ing a greater fo­cus on pur­su­ing leisure ac­tiv­i­ties will also help boost the lo­cal tourism econ­omy.

“I am very im­pressed by the nat­u­ral land­scapes and how they add to the an­cient charm of many small Chi­nese cities and towns. Im­prov­ing the leisure ac­tiv­i­ties scene in these places will not only ben­e­fit the lo­cal res­i­dents, but also the tourists,” said Coles, dur­ing the 2016 In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on (Health) Leisure Small Town De­vel­op­ment, held in Jingde county, Xuancheng city of East China’s Anhui prov­ince on April 23.

One of the sug­ges­tions from Coles is that lo­cal gov­ern­ments can build more walking paths and bik­ing trails. He said that such routes, re­gard­less of their length, are valu­able as­sets to any com­mu­nity as they pro­vide free recre­ation spa­ces for peo­ple of all ages and fit­ness lev­els.

As a pop­u­lar tourism des­ti­na­tion in the coun­try, Jingde is the first lo­ca­tion in China that has ap­plied to be­come a “World Leisure Town”. How­ever, be­fore the county — it has a pop­u­la­tion of about 152,000 — can be rec­og­nized by the WLO, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment has to im­prove in a few as­pects, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­ment and leisure fa­cil­i­ties.

“We are look­ing for­ward to see­ing how Jingde can im­prove and we hope it can be an ex­am­ple for other small cities and towns in the coun­try”, said Coles.

Hangzhou, cap­i­tal of East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince, is cur­rently the only place in the coun­try that has been ac­knowl­edged by the WLO as a “World Leisure City”.

The WLO, founded in 1952 and head­quar­tered in Spain, is a non-gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion that op­er­ates in con­sul­ta­tive sta­tus with the United Na­tions.

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