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Wellness tourism proves popular with young office workers

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-10-09 07:15
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HANGZHOU - Sipping tea on a rooftop terrace while overlooking the forested mountains directly below and just beyond, office worker Gao Lili, 29, spent her first day of the weeklong National Day holiday relaxing in the plush "O2 lounge", about 400 kilometers away from the city of Hangzhou.

Once an outbound-tourism lover, Gao felt fed up with the fatigue and crowds of long-distance journeys and tourist attractions.

With a hectic work schedule waiting for her at the end of the holiday, she decided to refresh herself through wellness tourism, which emphasizes traveling to promote health and well-being.

With over 96.5 percent of the area covered by forests, Tongling Mountain township in the city of Wenzhou in East China's Zhejiang province boasts negative oxygen ions exceeding 360,000 per cubic centimeter, making it an ideal destination for many young Chinese like Gao.

Dozens of forest bases developed by the wellness-tourism industry in the city also provide health-preserving activities, such as traditional Chinese medicine services, yoga and tai chi exercises, as well as healthy dining options.

"Even the best machine cannot withstand longtime, high-load operations and neither can our bodies," says Gao, who works in an internet-finance company and earns around 15,000 yuan ($2,185) per month in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang.

Liu Zhuying, an employee at a hotel in the township, has been surprised by the increasing popularity of the emerging industry.

The region plans to build 50 wellness-tourism bases, and it is estimated to receive about 70 million tourists annually by 2020 - with the value of the sector exceeding 27 billion yuan by that time.

"Countries like India, the Republic of Korea, the United States, Switzerland and Singapore are world-renowned destinations for wellness tourism, and they all have their competitive medical-tourism systems," says Zhu Shanzhong, executive director of the World Tourism Organization.

"In the past, wellness tourism has been related to older citizens and their lifestyles, but now, more and more young Chinese favor travel options for the purpose of health preservation," says Yang Honghao, an expert with the China Tourism Academy.

Among the young tourists, white-collar workers like Gao will be a major driving force of the industry.

Yang notes that China has a huge number of people living unhealthy lifestyles. They are increasingly targeted by wellness-tourism companies.

A mature industry and well-known resorts with complete service packages, including TCM and oxygen lounges that Gao enjoyed on her holiday, will attract young office workers to the new holiday resorts.

"According to the regimens of TCM, a good time to care for your health is in the autumn and winter. So, hot springs, mountaineering and other wellness-tourism features are expected to become a hit," predicts Zhao Zhongliang, a local homestay operator.

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