His­tor­i­cal Jing­gang re­stores it­self to for­mer glory

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHANGSHA SPECIAL - By ZHUAN TI

The once for­got­ten an­cient town of Jing­gang in Chang­sha, cap­i­tal of Hu­nan prov­ince, has been re­ju­ve­nated through tourism since its de­vel­op­ment plan was com­pleted in 2008.

The town is still ex­pect­ing more up­grades after the com­ple­tion of a three-year ac­tion plan for 2016-18 to de­velop the re­gion in the north­ern sec­tion of Chang­sha’s Xiang jiang River area.

Jing­gang is lo­cated on the west bank of the Xiang jiang River. Built on the fer­til­ized soil of the river delta, the town has been a home for hu­man civ­i­liza­tion since the Ne­olithic Era.

It also ser ved as an im­por­tant mil­i­tary strong­hold back in an­cient times.

Ben­e­fit­ing from the wa­ter way and pro­duc­tive land, Jing­gang used to be one of the three most pros­per- ous towns, and one of four ma­jor rice marke ts, in Cen­tral China’s Hu­nan prov­ince.

The de­cline of wa­ter­way trans­porta­tion meant an end to the pros­per­ous age. After busi­ness de­clined, the young gen­er­a­tion moved to big­ger cities for more op­por­tu­ni­ties, leav­ing the once flour­ish­ing town of Jing­gang a largely for­got­ten and empty place.

In 2008, the lo­cal govern­ment de­cided to re­vive the town by har­ness­ing its rich tourism po­ten­tial while care­fully pro­tect­ing its her­itage.

T he de­cayed his­tor­i­cal pawn­shops, black­smiths and phar­ma­cies were re­fur­bished to re­sem­ble their ap­pear­ance hun­dreds of years ago. Of­fi­cers also en­cour­aged res­i­dents to en­gage in the tourism busi­ness by sell­ing lo­cal snacks and folk hand­i­crafts.

The ef­forts soon paid off. The t o w n o f Ji n g g a n g w a s r a t e d a s one of the Fa­mous His­tor­i­cal and Cul­tural Cities of China in 2009, and a na­tional 4A tourism re­gion in 2011. The town has again flour- ished, mean­ing more prof­its for lo­cal res­i­dents.

“In the peak sea­son I can sell 200 to 300 bowls of rice wine at five yuan ($0.73) each, more than 1,000 yuan a day,” said Dai Yin­fang , a lo­cal rice wine brew­ery shop owner.

Jiang Tong­wan, an em­broi­dery shop owner, has wit­nessed the evo­lu­tion of Jing­gang’s come­back.

He rented a shop for 1,000 yuan monthly in 2013, and says busi­ness has been bet­ter and bet­ter each year. Now the shop brings in more than 200,000 yuan in an­nual rev­enue.

To meet the de­mands of the soar­ing vol­ume of tourists, Jing­gang town has cre­ated a num­ber of new tourism at­trac tions and e vents, such as a folk cul­ture theater fea­tur­ing an­cient bat­tles, a food fes­ti­val and out­door tra­di­tional per­for­mances.

In 2015, Jing­gang at­tracted 1.6 mil­lion vis­i­tors. This year has seen a dra­matic in­crease. Dur­ing the golden week of the na­tional hol­i­day alone, the town hosted more than 275,100 tourists.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Jing­gang an­cient town’s Bayuan­tang tra­di­tional theater stages lo­cal opera per­for­mances.

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