China Seeks ‘Red Tourism’ Boost From Party’s 100-Year Milestone
(Bloomberg) -- Two Chinese provinces are taking a lead in promoting “red tourism” ahead of the Communist Party’s centennial, as President Xi Jinping seeks to boost domestic consumption while consolidating power.
Jiangxi party chief Liu Qi announced at a press conference in Beijing last week that his province would host a China Red Tourism Expo with neighboring Hunan in October. The party is trying to improve coordination between the different red tourism sites that attracted an estimated 1.4 billion visits in 2019 before the pandemic stymied travel, according to the tourism ministry, roughly equal to China’s population.
Eastern Jiangxi province is home to Jinggangshan -- the so-called cradle of the Chinese revolution -- while Hunan has Shaoshan, the hometown of late party patriarch Mao Zedong. Other key red tourism sites around the country include Yanan in Shaanxi province and Zunyi in Guizhou province.
The party will celebrate 100 years since its founding later this summer, an occasion which Xi is also using to showcase his own grip over the ruling party. In the lead-up, the government has been pushing study of party history by all sectors of society including the business community, promoting lectures and gala events and encouraging people to visit key historic sites that commemorate important events.
‘Taste the Red Rice’
One person answering the call is 70-year-old Qingdao resident Zhao Fangan, who with her husband and a group of friends planned to visit several such red tourism sites including Ruijin, the former residence of Mao, also in Jiangxi as well as Yanan, near the end point of the Long March.
“We all want to see these places where the Chinese Red Army has gone,” the former teacher told Bloomberg News last month on the steps of the Jinggangshan Revolution Museum. “This year is a very special year -- the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China -- we want to commemorate it in this way.”
While many of the visitors observed during a government-led reporting trip to Jiangxi and Guizhou province in April were senior citizens, there was also a push to kindle interest in history among other groups including teenagers. They will be offered interactive experiences such as “taste the red rice” of the revolutionaries or to sing Red Army ballads, Liu said.
He added that the May Day holiday saw tourism traffic at “red heritage” sites in his province grow by 300% compared to the previous year. While he didn’t provide specific numbers on the provinicial level, he did cite the Nanchang Aug. 1 Memorial in the provincial capital as an example, saying the 5,000 tickets to the venue were “sold out” every day duriing the period.
“You can see tourists flooding all of the red tourists sites such as the ones in Jinggangshan,” Liu said. “As we mark the centenary of the CPC this year, we should seize the opportunity of party history, learning and education, and try to improve Jiangxi’s red tourism in terms of format, content and services.”
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