China Daily (Hong Kong)

‘Red tourism’ helping revive travel industry

- Kang Bing The author is former deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to China’s rapid economic developmen­t and rising individual incomes, Chinese tourists have been traveling across the globe and contributi­ng to the local economies. But the pandemicin­duced restrictio­ns on foreign travel have prompted tourists to turn to domestic historic and cultural sites, writes a veteran journalist with China Daily in the fourth of a series of commentari­es.

Thanks to its diverse topography and climate and 5,000-year-old civilizati­on, China has beautiful scenic, and historical and cultural sites. About 2,000 tourism tourist sites are open to the public with another 8,000 more worth to be explored.

Many of the historical sites are of great significan­ce to the Communist Party of China, which marked the 100th anniversar­y of its founding on July 1. The Party’s call to its 95 million members and the Chinese people as a whole to learn from the history and developmen­t of the CPC has inspired an increasing number of people to visit such sites, which has boosted “red tourism” and is helping revive the tourism sector.

During this year’s Qingming Festival on April 3-5, about 102 million domestic tourist visits were recorded, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. And the data released by Tongchenge­Long, an online travel agency, showed 15.6 percent of flight bookings were for “red tourism” destinatio­ns.

More important, most of the tourists visiting such sites are youths. Proud of the country’s great achievemen­ts, they are eager to learn more about the Party and its history — about how it developed from a secret organizati­on formed in Shanghai on July 1, 1921, into the world’s largest ruling party.

They want to know how the CPC managed to survive innumerabl­e hardships, including the Long March, to win the wars against the much stronger Japanese aggressors and Kuomintang to establish the People’s Republic in 1949. They also want to know how the CPC, within a few decades, transforme­d China from a poor country into the world’s second-largest economy.

There are hundreds of such revolution­ary sites across China, each telling a story or stories of the Party’s achievemen­ts. Unlike many scenic spots where the entrance fees are very high, the entry to such sites are either free or cost a small amount.

Some of the tourists visiting these sites are Party members. But an overwhelmi­ng number of the tourists visiting such sites want to know where the Party drew its inspiratio­n and strength from and to enjoy the beautiful sceneries around the sites. To avoid attacks from the stronger Japanese and Kuomintang armies, the CPC built its bases mostly in remote areas surrounded by nature.

During the Qingming Festival this year, Jinggangsh­an in Jiangxi province, received 34,700 tourists who spent nearly 23 million yuan ($3.55 million) there. The mountainou­s area is regarded as one of the cradles of the Chinese revolution. Chairman Mao Zedong and his comrades, after the counter revolution in 1927, withdrew to the area and set up a people’s government there, and stayed there until 1934 when they embarked on the Long March.

Similar tourist influxes has been reported in places such Yan’an in Shaanxi province and Xibaipo in Hebei province. After the Long March, the Party had its headquarte­rs in Yan’an for 12 years, from where it fought the Japanese aggressors as well as Kuomintang troops. The city is home to 440 sites of the CPC’s revolution­ary activities and boasts 30 revolution-themed museums, attracting thousands of visitors each day.

Located on the Loess Plateau, Yan’an also has many ancient pagodas and cliff inscriptio­ns, the famous Hukou waterfall and a rich cultural heritage. All these attraction­s are more than enough to keep tourists busy and happy for a few days.

Xibaipo in Shijiazhua­ng, Hebei province, is a village in the Taihang Mountain which draws thousands of visitors each day. Between 1948 and 1949, the CPC Central Committee camped in the village before marching to Beijing to found the People’s Republic. It was from the small farmers’ houses in the village that Mao and other Party leaders guided the People’s Liberation Army to defeat millions of Kuomintang troops.

There are hundreds of such revolution­ary sites across China, each telling a story or stories of the Party’s achievemen­ts. Unlike many scenic spots where the entrance fees are very high, the entry to such sites are either free or cost a small amount.

These places have played a vital role in promoting nationalis­m. A poll conducted by Edelman Global Internatio­nal Public Relations last July showed that more than 90 percent of the Chinese people are satisfied with their government’s performanc­e, the highest in the world. Perhaps their decision is based on the Party’s great achievemen­ts and its mission to serve the people and make efforts to realize national rejuvenati­on.

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