Rural tourism helps poverty alleviation in China, especially in poorer provinces with rich ethnic culture, said an official with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on Wednesday.
Tim Bartlett, a consultant at UNWTO, said at the 2006 International Forum on Rural Tourism, that rural tourism is helping the country's large rural population shake off poverty while not forcing them to leave homes.
Bartlett, while attending the two-day forum in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province, said that provinces like Guizhou, home to 17 ethnic minorities, have huge potential in developing rural tourism.
"Its remote mountains have prevented the ethnic population here from losing their traditions, languages, unique food and clothing."
More than 200 tourist industry representatives and experts from 16 countries and regions on Wednesday passed the Guiyang Declaration, which encouraged appropriate usage of ethnic cultural heritage by promoting the design, production and marketing of tourism products, of which handicrafts make up the largest portion.
The declaration also said that while developing tourism in rural areas is crucial, equal importance should be attached to the preservation of unique cultural heritages.
UNWTO called for Chinese financial institutions to fund the development of the new-emerging industry.
The forum, which ended on Wednesday, was organized by the China National Tourism Administration, the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the World Bank and the Guizhou provincial government.
Guizhou was chosen as the forum venue to showcase China's rural tourism development efforts. It has committed to promoting its ethnic brand of cultural tourism, its rural diversity and unique scenic spots. Its emerging rural tourism industry has helped many impoverished villages shake off poverty.
According to the statistics from China National Tourism Administration, 70 percent of urban tourists choose rural tourist destinations during China's three "golden-week" peak travel seasons in May, October and Spring Festival or China's Lunar New Year. Over 60 million tourists flock to rural tourist spots every such week.
(Xinhua News Agency September 7, 2006)