A new policy for tourism aims at improving China’s visual image. So far, China’s landscape was represented either by the Great Wall or by the imposing Shanghai’s skyline: the heritage of the past and the glory of the future.
Now another China comes on stage combining natural beauty and business opportunity: Yunan Province – “south of the clouds”. Bordering with Laos, Burma and close to Thailand, Yunan has assimilated much of their cultures and customs. The result is an exclusive blending of minorities accounting for ⅓ of a 45 m population. Scenery is spectacular, climate is mild, soil fertile: a place of eternal spring for its beauty and diversity.
Sadly, the Province has been long confined to the outskirt of the nation’s progress. It was, and largely still is, an example of backwardness, centred on agriculture to cater the needs of the coastal cities. But now, infrastructure development, both for tourism as well as for communication, is changing its destiny. Yunan will be soon entirely crossed by a spectacular highway originating from Singapore.
The end of the cold war made the unthinkable possible. Now an immense region, where the mighty Mekong flows, is nurtured by exchange of capital, goods, talents. Beijing’s political ambitions couple with the those of the surrounding countries. For them, China is an opportunity rather than a threat. The tourism industry is part of the scheme. Five-star hotels, first class golf courses, modern airports, welcome thousands of visitors.
The lonely, adventurous backpackers do not hold the exclusivity of unbeaten paths. Now the emerging urban middle class bring an economic twist. Second-house market is flourishing, since tourism in China is now an alternative to foreign destinations that give a prominent status symbol to the new riches. In bound tourism from abroad is on the rise, too.
In 2010 China became the 3rd most favoured destination in the world, at the expense of Spain, with 58m visitors. The Yunan’s Government has launched a farsighted policy, aimed at safeguarding natural beauties, without being instigated by the prospect of quick bucks. The choice is wise and profitable. The nature is a source of income, not anymore an obstacle to development. The goal is clear: make the legendary Shangri-la a reachable dream, a Florida-style paradise where tourists and retired people are ready to spend for a warm temperature and a comfortable ambiance