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Journey to the source

By Belle Taylor and Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2014-06-15 07:24

Journey to the source

Children play at TooToo Organic Farm in Beijing's outskirts. Foreign schools and companies often organize group visits. Provided to China Daily

Journey to the source

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A growing number of tourists in China are forgoing tropical paradises, cultural splendors and historic sites to visit farms and factories to see how the products they consume are made. Belle Taylor and Xu Lin examine agricultural and industrial tourism's growing allure.

What do tourists in China wish to see? The Great Wall? Certainly. Terracotta Warriors? Of course. But after getting a photo in Tian'anamen Square and walking the Bund, many visitors are beginning to want to see another side of China - the farms and factories that feed the country and produce goods that are sent all over the world.

Industry insiders call it industrial and agricultural tourism. And it's taking a larger chunk of the tourist dollar as people seek out unique experiences.

Visiting wineries, tea producers, organic farms - even car factories - is a way to get a glimpse into how a product you are passionate about is made - or simply provides interesting insight into how a particular industry works.

It's also a way for companies to self-promote and build brand loyalty.

Li Jun, manager of TooToo Organic Farm just outside Beijing, says customers have been visiting their facility ever since they started the business. For Li, it's not only about offering visitors a day away from the city but also allowing current and future customers to see for themselves that they truly deliver what they promise.

"The reason is to promote mutual trust," Li says.

"We provide organic products, and we tell the customers on our website that we have our own farm. But we must let the customer come and see and feel it, and see that it's the truth. We can show them the real thing."

He says there's no shortage of people who wish to visit the farm. Foreign schools and companies often organize group visits. And private visitors make the trip on weekends.

"The people who are our customers want a different choice for their weekend," says Li.

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