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Zunyi boosts tourism through games

By Zheng Yiran | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-30 10:41
Children take part in a dance competition during the 10th Games of Guizhou Province in Zunyi in August. [Photo provided to China Daily]

For individuals, sports might be a route to a fitter body and a healthier lifestyle, but for a tourist-focused city, the sports industry brings exciting business opportunities.

Zunyi, a city in Southwest China's Guizhou province, has seen rapid development in its tourism industry in recent years.

Rather than highlighting the local area's traditional "red tourism", which focuses on the Red Army's legendary revolutionary history, it is the sport industry that has spurred the city's tourism revenue.

According to the Guizhou Tourism Development Committee, a total of 118.8 million tourists visited Zunyi in 2017, surging 39.47 percent year-on-year. The tourism industry reported consolidated revenue of 114.3 billion yuan ($16.7 billion), up 44.21 percent on the previous year.

In the first half of 2018 the city's welcomed 73.82 million visitors, an increase of 31.35 percent year-on-year. The tourists brought in 66 billion yuan of revenue, up 36.7 percent on the same period last year.

One of the major reasons for the increase is the sports industry, the committee said.

In recent years, the local government has been vigorously developing the city's sports industry, which had promoted Zunyi's tourism sector, the committee said.

From Aug 8 to 18, the 10th Games of Guizhou Province were held in Zunyi. Operated by the city government, the games are the largest held in Guizhou, with over 20,000 participants involved.

The main stadium for the games, covering an area of 410,000 square meters, is located in the Zunyi Olympic Sports Center in the city's Xinpu New Area.

"The stadium is newly built. The games held here promoted the local economy," said Feng Bo, deputy director of the publicity department of Xinpu New Area.

Yuan Hong, director of the Zunyi Olympic Sports Center, said tens of thousands of tourists came to watch the 10th Games. They also paid visits to local sightseeing spots, boosting tourism revenue.

"Zunyi has a long history in sports. Every year the city grabs the top spots in the provincial tournaments of many sports, such as boat racing, track and field, weightlifting, wrestling and boxing. Boxing champion Zou Shiming is from Zunyi," Yuan said.

"Ever since Zou won the world championship, the local government has been sparing no efforts to develop sports tourism, which really benefits the public," he said.

In Zunyi, sports tourism is not only about big events. The 169-kilometer cycling road along the Chishui River in the city is the first of its kind in China. Cycling enthusiasts can bike along the road to enjoy the beautiful scenery, while exploring the same route that the Red Army took.

According to a national survey conducted by China Youth Daily, almost four in five Chinese respondents have taken part in sports tourism, demonstrating its growing popularity.

Shanping village of Tongzi county in southern Zunyi has taken advantage of sports tourism in its poverty-alleviation activities. In 2014, the county government spent 75 million yuan transforming the poor village into a tourism spot, introducing various kinds of flowers and vast grasslands, which attract tens of thousands of visitors annually.

"We have held two spring running races here, and there are always hiking teams, yoga teams and cycling teams streaming in and out," said Lie Xiangkun, a local government official.

"The village, which was previously in severe poverty, had lifted its annual per capita income from 4,500 yuan in 2013 to 20,300 yuan in 2017," he said. "The village's collective annual income increased from minus 100,000 yuan to over 5 million yuan now."

In 2016, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the General Administration of Sport issued a guideline that by 2020, the country should set up 100 premium sports tourism games, 100 selected sports tourism routes and 100 sports tourism bases.

The sector should attract 1 billion visits, accounting for 15 percent of all tourism visits, and total consumer spending should surpass 1 trillion yuan, according to the guideline.

Chang Chun, co-founder of Runnar, a marathon organizer and promoter, said: "With the ongoing national consumption upgrade, the country's tourism industry has transitioned from its sightseeing focus to an interaction-based model, while sports consumers have also transformed from merely being an audience to becoming involved participants."

"The integration of sports and tourism brings great economic benefits," he said.

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