Historic county’s initiatives: Growth and more visitors
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.