Small city can thrive on local resources

By Wan Lixin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, April 13, 2016
Adjust font size:

Dafeng is relatively sparsely populated today, with a population last year of 717,000 covering an area of over 3,000 sq km. It might sound presumptuous for a place like this to try to woo visitors from such places as Shanghai. Yet this is exactly what it is doing.

For one thing, Dafeng is rich in eco-tourist resources. It's only four hours away from Shanghai by bus, and a planned railway link will reduce the journey to one hour.

Dafeng is the adopted home of the David's deer (known in Chinese as milu, or sibuxiang, "the four unlikes"). This deer was once found throughout China, but became virtually extinct around the turn of the last century, when the last surviving herd was kept in a royal garden in Beijing. When the Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded China in 1900 to suppress the Boxer Rebellion, the remaining deer were either killed or taken to Europe. Dozens of deer were reintroduced to the reserve in Dafeng in the 1980s, and now their population has grown to over 1,000.

New development model

Dafeng's strategy to develop while also respecting nature represents a departure from the standard model that created rapid growth as well as serious ecological problems in so many other Chinese cities. In 2015, Dafeng received a total of 10 million visitors from home and abroad, which translated into tourist income totaling 6.5 billion yuan (US$10 billion).

As the tourist month opened last week with music from an Amsterdam orchestra, a European-style pageant, and a huge crowd gathered amid a colorful sea of tulips, the local leadership was already looking ahead, identifying future priorities. On April 8, a conference was held in the area on how to sustain green growth by harnessing the twin engines of the Internet and tourism.

Technology can provide many new opportunities. For instance, mobile-based car-pooling and taxi services offer a smart way to get around big cities like Shanghai.

One participant at the conference asked whether a similar concept could be used in the tourism industry, allowing like-minded individuals to travel and sightsee together. Unlike traditional tourist packages, this kind of travel could be highly personalized and foster lasting relationships between travellers.

It's worth studying how a small city like Dafeng is positioning itself in the tourism market. All too often, small cities become preoccupied with the notion that prosperity can come only by emulating the superficial trappings of larger cities.

This mindset has led to a concentration of resources in a few big cities, resulting in traffic congestion, foul air and tensions of all kinds.

With big cities continuing to siphon away so much of the country's money, resources and talented youth, there is a clear need to examine how Dafeng is managing to stand on its own feet.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
   Previous   1   2  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from