Rural villages in China are reporting unprecedented growth spurred by a nationwide initiative of poverty alleviation through rural tourism, with footfalls in remote attractions last year accounting for almost half the country’s total domestic movement.
Of China’s 4.4 billion-strong domestic tourism market in 2016, 2.1 billion participated in rural tourism. These travellers generated a total of RMB570 billion (US$86 billion) in revenue, which in turn benefited 6.72 million villagers.
“The rapid development that Hefei City has seen is unbelievable,” remarked Chen Wei, director of Hefei City Tourism Bureau. “Because tourists now like to visit less-frequented places, lesser-known areas like Hefei are becoming more popular.”
He told TTG Asia that after promoting the city’s “three melons commune” as a brand, Hefei is gearing to open up its more remote villages with a focus on accessibility and hospitality.
Similarly in the Jiangbei district of Ningbo, Zhejiang, rural tourism has brought a spike in visitor volume and business to remote villages that had previously fallen by the wayside.
Last year, receipts from produce at farming communities “multiplied several times”, said Chen Zhi Xiao, section staff of Jiangbei District Tourism Bureau.
He added that the bureau has been working with local tour operators to promote specialty products of each village and offer farming experiences for visitors.
Such rural tours have helped place these previously inaccessible farming villages on the tourist map, observed Jiangbei’s Chen.