Agri-tourism booms as color­ful con­cepts crop up across the re­gion

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By LIU CE andWUYONG in Shenyang

One of the gra­naries and golden corn belts of the coun­try, Shenyang, cap­i­tal ofNorth­east­China’s Liaon­ing province, is trans­form­ing in­toana­gri­cul­tural tourism des­ti­na­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Shenyang Com­mit­tee of Ru­ral Econ­omy, agri-tourism is ex­pand­ing rapidly. Last year, 195 new hos­pi­tal­ity projects were ap­proved. Their in­come reached 908 mil­lion yuan ($136 mil­lion) from over 4.4 mil­lion vis­i­tors.

“Ow­ing to the speed­ing up of ur­ban­iza­tion and im­prove­ment of liv­ing stan­dards, peo­ple’s con­sump­tion pat­terns have changed. The ris­ing mid­dle class are es­pe­cially more will­ing to pay for leisure tours,” said Shao Jian­bing, a pro­fes­sor of eco­nomics at Liaon­ingUniver­sity.

His view finds an echo in McKin­sey re­search.

Ac­cord­ing to its lat­est study, China’s mid­dle class con­sumers spend sig­nif­i­cantly more time and money on leisure ac­tiv­i­ties and tourism. More­over, they pre­fer to choose tours that af­ford mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences, not just sight­see­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In this con­text, agri-tourism of­fers many op­por­tu­ni­ties for such ex­pe­ri­ence­seek­ing trav­el­ers.

Shenyang Xi­bo­longdi In­no­va­tive Agri-Busi­ness Co Ltd is one of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of this trend. The firm’s gen­eral man­ager, ZhaoAi­jun, is a res­i­dent of Shenyang. Sens­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties & Com­pany’s in agri-tourism, he be­gan to de­velop paddy field tours and Tanbo art in Shen­bei district, the agri­cul­ture de­vel­op­ment zone of Shenyang in 2012.

Tanbo is a form of rice paddy art with ori­gins in Ja­pan: farm­ers plant va­ri­eties of rice pad­dies with dif­fer­ent col­ors, which grow up and cre­ate mag­nif­i­cent gi­ant or­ganic pic­tures in paddy fields.

“At first, we just wanted to pop­u­lar­ize our rice prod­ucts by de­vel­op­ing paddy field tours. Tanbo art is part of a strat­egy to at­tract more trav­el­ers. Sur­pris­ingly, peo­ple like it very much,” he said.

In the past three years, the num­ber of vis­i­tors to Xi­bo­longdi’s farms has more than tripled from 15,000 to over 50,000. Last year’s rev­enue from tourism reached 5 mil­lion yuan, ac­count­ing for about 30 per­cent of the to­tal.

Some 17 im­ages were dis­played in the rice fields cov­er­ing an area of 13.33 hectares in Zhao’s manor.

“It’s a good choice for fam­ily out­ings. It of­fers a quiet, pic­turesque, scenic place to re­lax. What’s more, it’s not too far from down­town,” said Li Haoyu, a vis­i­tor.

“Leisure farm­ing is a trend and­helps re­struc­ture­andin­no­vate pat­terns in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, es­pe­cially agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion,” said Zhang Jun­hua, vice-direc­tor of the Shenyang Com­mit­tee of Ru­ral Econ­omy.

Ac­cord­ing to the data of the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, na­tion­wide rev­enue from agri­tourism reached 440 bil­lion yuan in 2015, up 10 per­cent year-on-year. About 5.5 mil­lion ru­ral families ben­e­fited from the de­vel­op­ment.

Con­tact the writer at li­uce@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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