Tourism blooms as government offers incentives to stay put

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2021-02-26

Despite sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks, tourist destinations in North China's Shanxi province recorded 19.07 million visits during the seven-day Spring Festival holiday starting on Feb 11. They reported a combined revenue of 11.21 billion yuan ($1.74 billion), according to big data platforms.

However, unlike previous Spring Festivals, people from Shanxi, both permanent residents and migrant workers, accounted for a majority of the visitors.

Statistics show more than 56 percent of tourists were from Shanxi, with only 43.7 percent coming from other parts of the country.

This change in tourist origin can be attributed to the government's caution on long-distance travel. It came in response to pandemic prevention and control, local officials said.

Migrant workers were encouraged to stay where they work, as so many local destinations allowed free entry.

Zhang Hua, a native of Shaanxi province in Northwest China, has worked in Hongtong county in Shanxi province for three years. She chose to stay during this year's Spring Festival.

She visited the village of Dahuaishu in the county on Feb 12, the first day of Lunar New Year.

Dahuaishu, which means big pagoda tree, is said to be the ancestral hometown of many Chinese families as it was the source of a massive immigration movement during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

"Although I've been in Hongtong for three years, this is my first time visiting my ancestral hometown of Dahuaishu," Zhang said.

Zhang said the Dahuaishu Ancestor Memorial Garden, a major tourist destination surrounding the legendary pagoda tree, was decorated with "lovely lights" in the evening and she posed for a picture there.

As local tourism operators were aware of the changing trend of this year's travels, they designed many special activities for local tourists.

The botanic garden in the provincial capital of Taiyuan, for instance, held a grand flower show for visitors during this year's Spring Festival.

"We arranged a range of events for family tours," said Pan Liang, deputy chief of Taiyuan Botanic Garden.

"Various facilities for children were installed in the garden. There were also exhibitions and lectures to spread botanic knowledge among children," Pan said.

The garden offered free tickets to local migrant workers. According to Zhang, the botanic garden received 145,984 visits during Spring Festival. Nearly half of the visits were free of charge.

Wang Pei contributed to this story.