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