His­toric county’s ini­tia­tives: Growth and more visi­tors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS VIEWS -

The gov­ern­ment of Xinx­ian county re­cently be­gan a three-year pro­gram to in­te­grate lo­cal re­sources, up­grade in­fra­struc­ture and pro­mote tourism. China Daily’s and

in­ter­viewed Deputy County Head who shared his vi­sions of the pro­gram. What are the ad­van­ta­geous re­sources in Xinx­ian to de­velop tourism?

In short, we have 26 tourism sites in “three lines” – the old line, the red line and the green line.

First of all, Xinx­ian county has many well-pre­served old vil­lages.

In ad­di­tion to char­ac­ter­is­tic build­ings, we also have a num­ber of in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itages passed down by lo­cal res­i­dents such as folk songs and dra­mas.

The red line high­lights the county’s his­tory as a base for the rev­o­lu­tion in the 1920s and 1930s. And the green line refers to the county’s nat­u­ral beauty.

We al­ready have a num­ber of well-equipped tourist des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing Jin­lan Moun­tain, Ji­u­long­tan Pond and the mu­seum at the for­mer res­i­dence of Gen­eral Xu Shiyou. What does the gov­ern­ment plan to do in the near fu­ture with the pro­gram?

All our next steps will be based on the over­all plan of the “three lines”.

Un­der the “green” theme, lo­cal in­dus­tries will be re­struc­tured to be “healthier” with low pol­lu­tion.

We will fo­cus on elec­tron­ics, mod­ern agri­cul­tural pro­cess­ing and herb cul­ti­va­tion and pro­cess­ing.

There are more than 6,000 hectares of herb fields in Xinx­ian, and the area is still ex­pand­ing.

The farm­ers use no pes­ti­cide or chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers to make sure they are or­ganic. We plan to build a re­gional trad­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion hub for herbs and a pro­duc­tion base of herbal medicines.

We will also up­grade the in­fra­struc­ture in the old vil­lages.

De­spite their dis­tinc­tive ar­chi­tec­ture, there are many short­com­ings in those old build­ings. We will not only re­pair the houses from out­side but also im­prove their in­side func­tions.

For ex­am­ple, we will trans­form their kitchens and bath­rooms to im­prove hy­giene, and im­prove ven­ti­la­tion and light­ing to make them com­fort­able inns and restau­rants.

Some of the least-ad­vanced vil­lages in the re­mote moun­tain ar­eas even lack sta­ble elec­tric power or run­ning wa­ter, or roads to link them with the out­side. We will make ef­forts to change the sit­u­a­tion. Where is the fund­ing com­ing from to trans­form the vil­lages? How will the gov­ern­ment man­age the tourism re­sources?

Cur­rently most of the in­vest­ment comes from the vil­lagers them­selves.

Al­though the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has pro­vided sub­si­dies to re­pair un­safe old houses, it is still in­suf­fi­cient.

So in the next year the county gov­ern­ment will launch a foun­da­tion of some 10 mil­lion yuan ($1.6 mil­lion) to spon­sor up­grades in cul­tural in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing those old build­ings.

We wel­come do­na­tions to the foun­da­tion from in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions around the world that are in­ter­ested in the pro­tec­tion of his­tor­i­cal ar­chi­tec­ture.

They can also par­tic­i­pate in the man­age­ment of the vil­lages as new tourist at­trac­tions, but have to fol­low a uni­fied de­vel­op­ment plan guided by the gov­ern­ment. And we will make sure that all cur­rent res­i­dents in the vil­lages share the ben­e­fits from tourism. Some of the farm­ers can run ho­tels or restau­rants in their own homes. Oth­ers could do the clean­ing or cook­ing, or grow veg­eta­bles to sup­port the ser­vice. What is the cur­rent sta­tus of the plan?

We have in­vited top de­sign teams, in­clud­ing com­pa­nies and uni­ver­si­ties, to map out each tourism site we plan.

They will of­fer de­signs for free, cov­er­ing the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior dec­o­ra­tions of the old build­ings, sur­round­ing in­fra­struc­ture and light­ing.

Var­i­ous sites are now in dif­fer­ent stages. Xihe, Maopu and Dingli­wan vil­lages are three of the pi­lot vil­lages with the fastest progress, each of which has a dis­tinct high­light. Some oth­ers have just started plan­ning.

In Xihe vil­lage there will be a mu­seum for the camelia to honor the long his­tory of grow­ing the plant and mak­ing oil from it.

Visi­tors will be able to see a tra­di­tional oil press in the mu­seum.

Maopu vil­lage will pro­mote its in­cense in­dus­try. And Dingli­wan vil­lage will pro­vide tourists with the ex­pe­ri­ence of au­then­tic farm life, al­low­ing them to work in the field and try their hand at rais­ing poul­try and fish. We will also de­velop a se­ries of de­riv­a­tives such as sou­venirs at each tourism site.

In just half a year, the county will change its look greatly.

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