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'Silver' economy finds golden opportunities in Qihe

By Li Jiaying | | Updated: 2023-12-09 08:33
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The elderly care industry is gaining robust development momentum and driving new growth in Qihe county, Shandong province, as the local government beefs up efforts to drive high-quality development with local characteristics.

With residents aged 60 or above accounting for 21.84 percent of its total population, Qihe is exploring a new model of elderly care services that mainly focus on rural homestays in surrounding villages and towns.

"The lotus pond over 1,000 mu (66.7 hectares) around the village makes me recall my childhood. I feel relaxed living here. The transportation is also convenient, with only one hour's drive back to Jinan," said Chen Zhongyi, a retired elderly from Jinan, capital of Shangdong, who has been staying at a rural homestay in Daxu village, Zhaoguan township of Qihe for the past six months.

Qihe aims to attract elderly people in surrounding cities to enjoy their retirement in the countryside, by integrating rural tourism and the construction of beautiful rural areas.

"We are pushing ahead high-quality elderly care, tourism and homestay industries in 10 villages now. We have completed the renovation of 26 homestays and the figure is expected to reach 100 next year," said Pan Hongjian, mayor of Zhaoguan township.

Qihe has also built a smart elderly care information service platform and relevant service projects, involving nationally famous professional service providers for management and operation. The projects have provided regular door-to-door services for the elderly in six areas — meals, medical treatment, home cleaning, bathing, emergency aid, and entertainment.

With an investment of 1 billion yuan ($139.6 million), the newly established international medical and wellness center in Qihe is expected to be an important wellness base near Jinan, to provide local residents with high-quality medical, rehabilitation and elderly care services, said Zhang Yong, chairman of Qihe Financial Investment Holding Group Ltd.

Currently, Qihe has attracted more than 50 high-end biomedical, medical device and healthcare enterprises engaged in elderly care, through a diversified cultural, tourism and wellness industry cluster that integrates hot spring therapy, health preservation and leisure vacation. The proportion of the wellness industry in its GDP has reached 21 percent now, with relevant output value exceeding 5 billion yuan, said the local government.

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