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China Hosts 1st Int'l Forum on Rural Tourism
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The 2006 International Forum on Rural Tourism opened in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province, on Tuesday. It is the first time China has hosted such a high level forum on the theme.


The meeting -- jointly organized by China National Tourism Administration, the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the World Bank and the provincial government of Guizhou -- convened more than 200 tourist industry representatives and experts from 16countries and regions.


Francesco Frangialli, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, made the keynote speech at the opening session of the forum. He said that poverty alleviation is one of the long-term goals in developing rural tourism and his organization feels honored to help China develop rural tourism with its rich cultural and natural heritages.


Shao Qiwei, director of China National Tourism Administration told participants that China's countryside tourist spots host more than 300 million tourists every year with annual tourist earnings from the sector exceeding 40 billion yuan (US$5 billion).


"Rural tourism development has become a new economic growth sector in China, and has the capacity to help poor rural regions shake off poverty," said Shao.


The official said that the administration has nominated 35 demonstration spots for rural tourist development, scattered all over the country.


According to administration statistics, 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.


The two-day forum will organize group sessions on a variety of topics such as how to promote sustainable development in rural areas through rural tourism.


Guizhou was chosen as the venue for the forum to showcase China's rural tourist development efforts. The economically-backward province is committed to promoting its ethnic brand of cultural tourism, its rural diversity and unique scenic spots. Its emerging rural tourism sector has helped many impoverished villages shake off poverty.


(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2006)

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