NPC deputy from Huangshan vows to drive local economy with tourism Updated: 2022-03-10

NPC deputy from Huangshan vows to drive local economy with tourism.jpeg

Ling Yun, deputy to the National People's Congress and Party secretary of Huangshan, Anhui province [Photo/]

As with the globally renowned Huangshan Mountain (Yellow Mountain), Huangshan city in Anhui province aims to develop tourism to improve the lives of residents, the city's top official said.

Huangshan received 63.17 million visits and recorded an annual tourism income of 53.8 billion yuan ($8.5 billion) in 2021, about 81 percent of the 2019 number, said Party Secretary Ling Yun.

Ling, a deputy to the National People's Congress, said on the sidelines of the ongoing two sessions that the city's recovery from the economic downturn of 2020 has been faster than the national average.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism said in January that domestic travel saw a year-on-year rise of 12.8 percent — around 3.25 billion visits in 2021. That number is more than half what it was in 2019, when Chinese people made more than 6 billion visits to tourist attractions, showing strong recovery.

As a tourism-dominated city, Huangshan has been harshly impacted by COVID-19 since 2020, but local authorities have been active, not just waiting, Ling said.

She said the city is now striving to build itself into an eco-friendly destination for leisure tourism.

In 2019, about 74 million visitors came to Huangshan — about seven times the number of visitors to Hawaii in the United States the same year — while visitors from outside the Chinese mainland numbered 2.87 million, about double the volume of visitors to tropical Hainan province, according to the local government.

"The abundance of local tourism resources is beyond many people's imagination, and we should make better use of the gifts of nature and history to serve people's common prosperity," Ling said.

One example, she said, is that the city has been firmly supporting local farmers and investors to run homestays.

A guideline from 2021 projects that the number of homestay businesses in the province will surpass 10,000 by 2025.

"So far, Huangshan has more than 2,500 homestays across the city, bringing in revenue of more than 1.5 billion yuan last year," Ling said.

As homestays make it more convenient for tourists to stay in villages, Huangshan's rural tourism sector recorded 44.2 million visits last year, bringing in 32.3 billion yuan.

She said rural tourism development has become a major source of income for residents in Huangshan. The city has more than 8,000 above-ground historical and cultural relics, more than 90 percent of which are located in rural areas.

In ancient times, most of the Huangshan area belonged to Huizhou prefecture, which existed for nearly 800 years. It was established in the early 12th century to govern six counties.

As the mountainous counties had limited arable land, more than 70 percent of local male residents became traveling merchants, who became a dominant business group in the country by the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). A saying emerged that "a town will not be a town without Huizhou merchants".

The merchants' success brought wealth with which to build, and delicate architecture emerged in the Huizhou style.

Boosting economic growth in rural areas was highlighted as a key task in China's first policy statement of the year from central authorities. The latest document, released in February, highlighted the integrated development of industries in the countryside and for the first time mentioned support for the rural homestay sector.

The document encourages farmers to directly run, or participate in running, rural homestays as a way to improve rural tourism.

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