China witnessing an increase in Red Tourism: What it is and how it is impacting the tourism industry in China

However, this form of tourism is also being criticised

Red Tourism: With the completion of 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party, China is witnessing an unprecedented increase in Red Tourism, in which all the places of historical and cultural significance to the party are visited, according to a report in IE. Among the places that are visited as part of the tour are Zhejiang’s Nanhu Lake where the party held its First National Congress back in 1921 on a boat, and Shaoshan, which was the birthplace of Mao. These places have been witnessing a significant rise in tourists, so much so that Red Tourism has been playing a key role in giving a boost to the economy of China amid the pandemic.

‘Red Tourism’ in China was launched in 2004 and it refers to visiting sites that are related to modern revolutions, aiming to promote locations that are linked to the history and culture of the ruling party. Moreover, Red Tourism, like all other forms of tourism, also boosts local businesses. As per the country, the aim of this type of tourism is to make people aware about the origins of the ruling party and its history. The report added that now, the sites visited as part of this tour have become the core of the growing tourism industry in the country. By trying to remind people of the sacrifices that leaders of the ruling party made, party aims to instil the party ideology in the minds of the citizens.

As a part of the tour, some famous sites that are covered include Yan’an, which was the revolutionary base area of Mao Zedong and the location where the Red Army had arrived after having completed the Long March. Birthplace of Mao is also a destination in the tour, and so is Jinggangshan where the party had in 1927 set up their first rural base. Sites of early battles and the escape of Mao are also included in the tourism.

The report stated that the list of places included in the tour is a long one, since just Yan’an houses a whopping 140 red sites.

These tourism sites are piquing the interest of the youth of the country who are keen to learn more about the nation’s history. Apart from that, technologies like AI and virtual reality being incorporated into this tourism has also helped in gaining the attention of the youth. Among the tourists at red sites, 40% are between the ages of 21 and 30 years, the report added.

China has also invested heavily in this form of tourism over the years. Between 2016 and 2020, the budgeted spend on Red Tourism was about $370 million. Such big spends are also yielding results, as in 2018, of the domestic tourism spending by people, red sites accounted for 10%, and in 2019, 1.4 billion tourists visited red sites. There has been exponential growth in this area.

However, this form of tourism is also being criticised as critics say that it aims to paint a one-sided picture about the country’s history among people. They added that it can ignore the failures as well as misdeeds of the Communist leaders in China, telling people a history that would be in the favour of the party.

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