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Province seeks 'migratory' seniors

By Luo Wangshu In Beijing And Tian Xuefei In Harbin | China Daily | Updated: 2016-05-10 08:21

Province seeks 'migratory' seniors

Two Russian women walk down a street lined with vendors in the border city of Heihe, Heilongjiang province, in July. Many Russians now spend the summer in the province.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Heilongjiang promotes northern benefits as a way to enjoy cooler summer season

China's northeastern province is aiming to position itself as a summer destination for the elderly in a bid to boost tourism income and revive its economy.

"We have attempted to discover the migratory patterns of seniors," said Sun Yongbo, vice-governor of Heilongjiang province. "Currently, many seniors from Heilongjiang travel to Sanya, in southern China's Hainan province, for the winter. In a similar way, we aim to attract seniors from all over the country to spend their summers in Heilongjiang."

Sun said seniors are increasingly traveling to different parts of the country at certain times of the year, rather like migratory birds, and if they were to visit Heilongjiang in large numbers, the economic boost could help offset the recent economic decline caused by low GDP growth, overcapacity in traditional industries and the proliferation of unprofitable companies.

China has a rapidly aging population and, by 2015, will have 222 million people who are older than 60, so the market is an important one.

"Our provincial economic situation has faced unprecedented challenges and difficulties," the vice-governor said. "In the last two years, traditional industries, which are all pillars of the provincial economy, including the coal and wood sectors, have experienced dramatic decreases."

Heilongjiang borders Russia's eastern extremity and was once part of Northeast China's industrial powerhouse with Jilin and Liaoning provinces.

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