A new frontier for tourism

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A recent international cross-country running event attracted more than 1,000 participants from 25 countries and regions.

"It was fun to experience nature and the local Tibetan cultural elements, as well as interact with other runners from different parts of the world along the way," says Chen, who finished her race in eight hours and 30 minutes.

"The azaleas in the valley were in full bloom and rain and snow were coming down when I was ascending to 4,700 meters above sea level," Chen recalls. "I wanted to cry when I reached the finish point."

Known for its virgin landscapes that boast stunning scenes of nature, Yading is located in Shangri-La town, Daocheng county, Sichuan province's Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture.

The nature reserve is famous for its three mountain peaks that are blanketed by snow all year round as well as the lush alpine meadows that flank its blue rivers and lakes. While the mountain terrain may be rough, colorful prayer flags and local Tibetans leading their mules add a touch of charm to the landscape. One of the popular tourist attractions here is the golden-roofed Chonggu Monastery that is set against a backdrop of a snowy mountain peak and a pristine blue sky.

The cross-country race has helped to promote Yading around the globe, says Huang Xiaodong, deputy director of the Yading scenic spot. He noted that daily tourist numbers this year so far have grown by more than 80 percent compared with last year. During the National Day holiday in October, the scenic spot reached its daily maximum capacity of 16,000 people. About 750,000 people visited Yading in 2017.

The booming tourism sector in the nature reserve has inherently improved the lives of those living within. According to Huang, about one third of the population in Shangri-La town are directly involved in the industry, offering various services and products to tourists. Each of the 3,000 residents of Shangri-La town could make more than 20,000 yuan a year (US$3,153).

A recent international cross-country running event attracted more than 1,000 participants from 25 countries and regions.
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