EX­PAND­ING IN­NER MON­GO­LIA’S MAG­NIF­I­CENCE The au­ton­o­mous re­gion is devel­op­ing new tourism of­fer­ings to en­hance its ap­peal. and re­port.

Cheng Yuezhu Yuan Hui

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Life -

The In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion is devel­op­ing new com­po­nents for its tourism in­dus­try, such as “flower-sea­son”, “in­tel­li­gent” and “poverty-alle­vi­a­tion” travel.

To this end, Arxan city in In­ner Mon­go­lia’s Hing­gan League staged the first In­ner Mon­go­lia Flower Sea­son Tourism and Rhodo­den­dron Fes­ti­val on May 19 and 20, as part of the 2018 China Tourism Day events.

The theme of this year’s tourism day is “re­gional tourism and beau­ti­ful liv­ing”. Re­gional tourism is a con­cept pro­posed by the State Coun­cil in March to max­i­mize the ben­e­fits of mod­ern­ized and qual­ity tourism through­out an en­tire re­gion.

In­ner Mon­go­lia’s tourism devel­op­ment com­mit­tee has since in­tro­duced a se­ries of cel­e­bra­tions fo­cused on the dif­fer­ent ar­eas’ peak bloom­ing sea­sons.

Flower-view­ing tourism also fea­tures scenery, cus­toms and lo­cal spe­cial­ties. It’s in­tended to en­hance the pop­u­lar­ity of In­ner Mon­go­lia from May to Oc­to­ber.

Arxan’s Rhodo­den­dron Fes­ti­val is one of the first cel­e­bra­tions of this theme.

“It’s an in­no­va­tive ap­proach to re­gional travel,” tourism devel­op­ment com­mit­tee di­rec­tor Deng Yip­ing ex­plains.

“We’re start­ing with rhodo­den­drons as a medium to in­tro­duce In­ner Mon­go­lia’s flower pe­riod to com­pen­sate for off-sea­son lulls and cre­ate new peak-travel times.”

The fes­ti­val’s open­ing cer­e­mony was staged on the shores of Rhodo­den­dron Lake in the Arxan Na­tional For­est Park, which is a na­tional 5A (top-level) desti­na­tion.

Arxan has one of the coun­try’s largest forested ar­eas per capita, lo­cal tour guide Zhang Huiqiu says.

Plant cov­er­age is 95 per­cent. About 80 per­cent of the area hosts wood­lands.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said Arxan is “beau­ti­ful in all four sea­sons” and “will rise to fame by devel­op­ing tourism” dur­ing his 2014 visit.

The com­mit­tee has de­vel­oped poli­cies fa­vor­able to vis­i­tors dur­ing the flower sea­son. Arxan Na­tional For­est Park of­fered free en­try dur­ing the Rhodo­den­dron Fes­ti­val, and half-priced tick­ets for the rest of May.

The event at­tracted about 36,000 trav­el­ers.

It hosted such ac­tiv­i­ties as a folk-at­tire pageant, a “taste of In­ner Mon­go­lia” food fes­ti­val, and plaza-danc­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy and cy­cling com­pe­ti­tions.

The park has con­structed a smart-ex­pe­ri­ence cen­ter for vis­i­tors and an in­tel­li­gent op­er­a­tion-and-main­te­nance cen­ter for man­age­ment.

The 130-square-me­ter smart-ex­pe­ri­ence hosts vir­tual-re­al­ity tours of the park, an Iben ser­vice ro­bot, a mul­ti­me­dia-pro­jec­tion sys­tem, an all-in-one touch-screen ma­chine and a mo­tion-sens­ing screen. The high-tech de­vices pro­vide travel in­for­ma­tion and im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ences.

The op­er­a­tion-and-main­te­nance cen­ter that opened last year serves about two-dozen func­tions, such as build­ing safety and in­tel­li­gent public ser­vice.

It not only al­lows trav­el­ers to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion and pur­chase tick­ets us­ing mo­bile de­vices but also mon­i­tors and pre­dicts vis­i­tor num­bers.

Arxan city has de­vel­oped poverty-alle­vi­a­tion tourism in re­cent years as one of the first na­tional re­gional-tourism demon­stra­tion ar­eas and a China Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion “one-on-one” poverty-alle­vi­a­tion city.

Part of the project has been Bailang For­est Folk Cul­ture In­dus­try Devel­op­ment Ltd’s sou­venir pro­cess­ing.

“Poor lo­cals can work here part time or full time to make tree-bark col­lages,” gen­eral man­ager Xie Caiyun says.

“They can also re­ceive stock div­i­dends.”

The Min­istry of Cul­ture and Tourism says the Hing­gan League has been ac­tively com­bin­ing tourism and poverty alle­vi­a­tion by in­volv­ing peo­ple liv­ing in poverty in the travel in­dus­try.

The per­cent­age of res­i­dents liv­ing be­low the poverty line has seen a dra­matic drop in re­cent years.

Au­thor­i­ties ex­pect the new tourism ap­proaches will fur­ther im­prove lo­cal peo­ple’s liveli­hood in the near fu­ture.

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