Making a decision at a government level and implementing at ground roots is something else again. The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) recently disclosed that the China rural tourism development outline for the years 2009-2015 is currently being compiled.
The outline proposes that the rural tourism industry achieves the goals of receiving over 800 million tourists, grossing more than RMB120 billion in tourism revenue, and directly and indirectly employing 10 million and 40 million personnel, respectively, by 2015.
Precisely how those amazing figures will be achieved is not spelled out. The number of farm houses which are in a condition to accommodate tourists is not defined. Only goals and aspirations.
It is estimated that in 2008, China’s rural tourism industry received over 400 million tourists and rural tourism revenue exceeded RMB60 billion. It, of course, depends on how you define rural tourism but it is not likely that this was achieved by farmers. Country inns, possibly.
CNTA states that it accounts for about 23% and 8% of China’s total received tourists and total tourism revenue, respectively. It, again, depends on how you define rural tourism.
CNTA says that on the future, rural tourism will become an important driving force to promote the development of rural industries, increase farmers’ income and develop a harmonious rural society. It will become a new growth point in the development of the tourism industry. If this means the average farm in China will suddenly become suitable for tourism it sounds a tad far-fetched.
Chinese Stock Information reports that Wang Zhifa, vice director of China’s National Tourism Administration, emphasized that effectively guaranteeing farmers’ rights and interests is the most fundamental and important principle for developing rural tourism.
Measures such as allowing farmers to purchase shares and guiding farmers to organize tourism associations or tourism alliances should be adopted to guarantee farmers’ participation in decision-making and management, and ensure that farmers benefit from increased employment and higher income. No mention appears to have been made of making the farm houses suitable for visitors, although this would appear to be a first step.
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