JOUR­NEYS TO­WARD PROS­PER­ITY

The pre­cip­i­tous pre­cip­i­tous ter­rain ter­rain that that was was once once the the big­gest big­gest ob­sta­cle ob­sta­cle to to Guizhou’s Guizhou’s de­vel­op­ment de­vel­op­men­tis gen­er­atingis gen­er­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties op­por­tu­ni­tiesto over­cometo over­come poverty poverty

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Guizhou prov­ince’s un­du­lat­ing to­pog­ra­phy has long sculpted its fight against poverty into an up­hill bat­tle in ev­ery sense — but the very moun­tains that had blocked pros­per­ity are today gen­er­at­ing it through tourism.

In­deed, the sheer karst peaks, sweep­ing gorges and gush­ing wa­ter­falls that shape this swath of the Yun­nan-Guizhou Plateau in South­west China have made trans­porta­tion con­struc­tion dif­fi­cult. But their mag­nif­i­cent beauty com­pels a grow­ing num­ber of vis­i­tors.

About 11.5 mil­lion peo­ple — a third of Guizhou’s pop­u­la­tion— lived be­low the poverty line by the end of 2011, of­fi­cial fig­ures show.

The num­ber dropped to 4.9 mil­lion by the end of last year.

That’s largely be­cause lo­cal au­thor­i­ties de­clared a war on poverty sev­eral years ago, un­veil­ing an ar­ray of mea­sures rang­ing from sub­si­dies to startup sup­ports. But tourism has proven one of the most ef­fec­tive weapons in its ar­se­nal.

The State Coun­cil out­lined goals for Guizhou’s tourism in a 2012 guide­line. Th­ese in­cluded build­ing Guizhou into a glob­ally fa­mous tourist des­ti­na­tion, a leisure re­sort and a “vi­tal plat­form for cul­tural ex­change”.

Trans­porta­tion has proven key. Guizhou spent 410 bil­lion yuan ($68 bil­lion) weav­ing all of its 88 county-level re­gions into a high­way net­work ac­cord­ing to the 12th FiveYear Plan (2011-15).

It also opened high-speed rail lines that link the prov­ince to such ma­jor me­trop­o­lises as Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Guangzhou and Shen­zhen. Ten air­ports in Guizhou serve all nine pre­fec­ture-level di­vi­sions.

Trans­porta­tion im­prove­ments lured 376 mil­lion tourists in 2015.

They gen­er­ated 351 bil­lion yuan in rev­enue — 96 bil­lion yuan more than the pre­vi­ous year. Tourism has be­come Guizhou’s pil­lar in­dus­try, ac­count­ing for 9.2 per­cent of its GDP last year.

The sec­tor is ex­pected to cre­ate over 500,000 jobs in Guizhou, pulling at least 1 mil­lion peo­ple out of poverty by 2020, Gov­er­nor Sun Zhi­gang says.

He made the re­mark at the 2016 In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence ofMoun­tainTourism and Out­door Sports in Xingyi in Guizhou’s Qianx­i­nan Bouyei and Miao au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture late last month.

“De­vel­op­ing moun­tain tourism is direly needed for poverty-re­lief ef­forts, es­pe­cially for places like Guizhou with abun­dant moun­tains,” says Wei Xiaoan of the­World Tourism Cities Fed­er­a­tion.

Mar­ket­ing re­lies heav­ily on moun­tains and pro­grams fo­cused on sight­see­ing, leisure, sports, ed­u­ca­tion and health.

High­light­ing dif­fer­ent des­ti­na­tions’ unique char­ac­ter­is­tics is vi­tal to the tourism boom, he be­lieves.

“Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate moun­tain tourism,” he says.

“Take Guizhou — its tourism con­sists of … moun­tains, ethnic di­ver­sity and ru­ral scenery.”

Qianx­i­nan is a hid­den gem in south­west­ern Guizhou. It’s home to 36 ethnic groups and rich bio­di­ver­sity. Ex­perts say Xingyi’s nat­u­ral of­fer­ings en­dow it with the po­ten­tial to be­come a world-class des­ti­na­tion like Queen­stown in New Zealand and Cham­pery in Switzer­land.

“In tourism, be­ing less-de­vel­oped and in­ac­ces­si­ble often in­creases a land’s value. And moun­tains are the most valu­able des­ti­na­tions,” says Wang Zhi­gang, a strat­egy con­sul­tant forQianx­i­nan.

The pre­fec­ture is build­ing fa­cil­i­ties for down­hill ski­ing, bungee jump­ing, rock climb­ing, raft­ing, hot-air bal­loon­ing and sky­div­ing to ac­com­mo­date grow­ing de­mand globe.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have pledged to up­grade trans­porta­tion and en­hance ac­com­mo­da­tion ca­pac­ity while pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment in the com­ing years. from around the

spent in Guizhou to weave all of its 88 county-level re­gions into a high­way net­work

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY AND BY XIN­HUA

Top: Karst peaks and sweep­ing gorges that shape the spe­cial to­pog­ra­phy of Guizhou com­pel a grow­ing num­ber of vis­i­tors. Above left: A Bouyei woman plays the tra­di­tional in­stru­ment, the yue­qin, Above right: An ethnic Bouyei woman and a for­eigner par­tic­i­pate in the bam­boo dance in Zhen­feng county in Guizhou’s Qianx­i­nan Bouyei and Miao au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture. in a per­for­mance.

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