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'Revolutionary' approach to tourism

Once home to the Red Army and headquarters of the Communist Party of China, Yan'an is today building its future on "red" tourism.


By the end of the year, about 6 million tourists from home and abroad will have visited the city, taking tourism revenue to about 3 billion yuan ($435 million), Wu Yanjun, a senior official with the local tourism bureau, said on Wednesday.

A tourist visits a cave house in Yan'an, where Mao Zedong lived during the revolution. [File Photo]

A tourist visits a cave house in Yan'an, where Mao Zedong lived during the revolution. [File Photo]  

Yan'an is working hard to develop its red tourism industry and hopes to be among the best in the country by 2010, he said.


Other centers for red tourism include Shaoshan in Hunan province, the hometown of Mao Zedong; and Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province, where the Red Army was formed.


Yan'an resident Jia Sigui, a farmer skilled in the art of paper cutting, said the growth of the tourism industry has been very good for business.


"I learned how to paper cut from my grandmother. It used to be just a hobby, but now it helps me to make money for my family," he said.


Before Yan'an became a popular tourist spot, Jia said he earned just 500 yuan a year from paper cutting.


"Last year, I earned about 10,000 yuan," he said.


According to official figures, the average per capita income for farmers last year was 2,845 yuan.


Luo Zhiqi, a businessman from Shandong province, said he has visited Yan'an several times, and finds the place inspiring.


"People there work hard for success in very difficult conditions, and I always remember that when I'm looking at my own businesses," he said.


Ma Mingxia, who works at the Yangjialing Revolutionary Memorial Hall in Yan'an, said tourist numbers have been rising fast.


"We now get about 5,000 visitors a day," she said.


Australian Ann Grenfell said she visited Yan'an to see all the places she had read about in Edgar Snow's Red Star over China.


Lu Shaomin, head of the local tourism bureau, said the city is home to many famous places where the founders of the People's Republic of China once worked and lived.


Its rich history and stunning natural attractions, like the Hukou waterfall on the Yellow River, make it very popular with tourists, he said.


City Mayor Chen Qiang said: "As well as the oil and gas industries, tourism is now an important part of Yan'an's economy, and there is still huge potential for the development of red tourism."


(China Daily December 11, 2008)