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Tourism efforts help Guizhou reap poverty eradication rewards

By Zheng Yiran in Beijing and Yang Jun in Guiyang | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-25 09:35
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Tourists watch a drum performance in Tucheng Ancient Town in Xishui county in Southwest China's Guizhou province. [Photo by Luo Lifei/For China Daily]

Guizhou is banking on its tourism industry to provide a cutting edge for poverty eradication, as the southwestern Chinese province strives to be a role model for China's anti-poverty efforts.

By September this year, the tourism industry provided employment opportunities for 986,400 people in the province, which in turn helped 897,000 of them to come out of the shadow of poverty, according to data provided by the provincial authorities.

Guizhou has developed 19,495 tourism spots in 66 poverty-stricken counties, with 4,490 of them in 16 counties that are suffering from deep poverty. During the first three quarters of this year, Guizhou's rural tourism attracted 423 million visitors, up 21.7 percent on a yearly basis. Total rural tourism revenue surged 30.6 percent year-on-year to 256.2 billion yuan ($36.5 billion).

During the same period, total tourism revenue in Guizhou reached 1 trillion yuan, up 28.3 percent year-on-year, according to the Guizhou Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism.

"In recent years, Guizhou has attracted tens of thousands of tourists with its unique landscape and rich culture. Promoting the development of the tourism industry is an important approach for targeted poverty alleviation. Through tourism, we hope to bring more people out of poverty," said Wang Wenxue, deputy head of the Guizhou Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism.

Xijiu, a northern town in Guizhou, is an ideal example of tourism-driven poverty alleviation in the province. As a town famous for producing baijiu, the town attracts tens of thousands of baijiu lovers every year. Guizhou Xijiu, the largest baijiu producer in the town, regularly organizes baijiu discovery tours. The tours include learning brewing techniques at the factory, visiting liquor collection museums, as well as baijiu tasting parties guided by liquor professionals.

According to the company, in November, over 900 batches of tourists, or 13,400 visitors, experienced its liquor tourism.

Lou Bihua, Party secretary of Xijiu town, said that in 2014, there were 4,628 villagers facing poverty. Through the active poverty alleviation efforts, the town managed to reduce the incidence from 13.86 percent in 2014 to 1.02 percent in 2018. This year, Xijiu town has managed to eliminate poverty, said officials.

Xiang Chengqiang, Party secretary of Xishui county, which Xijiu town belongs to, said: "Xishui county has beautiful natural scenery, a pleasant climate, and rich history and culture. More tourists are now coming to Xishui. We will continue to give full play to the role of the tourism industry in poverty alleviation, and realize high-quality development."

According to Xiang, during the first six months of 2018, Xishui attracted 3.02 million tourist visits, up 51 percent year-on-year. Its total tourism revenue surged 53.8 percent on a yearly basis to 3.48 billion yuan.

Tongzi county, in northern Guizhou, is another example of tourism-driven poverty alleviation. With the support of the government, the county transformed from a poverty-stricken area to a national 4A-level scenic spot.

The income from the scenic spot is mainly through tourism entrance tickets, parking fees, village-level labor service income, village-level housing rental and village-level land transfer.

According to the local government, currently, there are 1,822 village guesthouses in Tongzi. In 2018, the scenic spot attracted 19.39 million visits, lifting nearly 4,000 poor villagers out of poverty.

The annual Central Economic Work Conference held in Beijing from Dec 10 to 12 has called for resolute efforts in targeted poverty alleviation, as one of the "three tough battles". It also underscored the importance of using industry development for poverty alleviation.

Li Jinzao, vice-minister of culture and tourism, said tourism-driven poverty alleviation work can bring positive results to both the economic and civil enhancement sectors. Rural tourism has become the strongest force to lift villagers out of poverty, he said.

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