Tourists come to see Chinese centenarians
Centenarians drive up tourism in China's Bama county
BEIJING, China - More than 180,000 tourists have visited a remote mountainous county in China famous for having the most centenarians in the country. Officials hope to cash in on the phenomenon to drive up tourism and help reduce poverty in the area.
The people visited the Bama county in Hechi city of Guangxi Zhuang region to experience its "local longevity culture", Xinhua news agency reported.
Bama, predominately inhabited by the ethnic Yao group, is recognised by the International Natural Medicine Society as the "hometown of longevity".
The county now boasts 73 centenarians and 252 people over 90 years of age. The ratio of centenarians is 30.8 per 100,000, which exceeds the international standard of 25 per 100,000.
Li Meixiao, director of a tourism group, attributed the county's growing popularity to tourists' changing tastes.
Many people come "with a wish to see the centenarians in person, taste what these centenarians have every day and breath in the fresh air we have", he said.
Wang Jun, a 60-year-old tourist, said: "The germ-killing negative oxygen ions in the air here are much more than that in scenic spots where it is jam-packed with people. Staying here is much healthier."
With the influx of tourists, rural inns are providing a new source of income to the Bama people, who previously depended on farmland for food.
Official statistics showed that in 2011, the Pona village received 273,000 tourists and took an aggregate tourism revenue of 64.3 million yuan. According to the city's blueprint, by 2015, rural tourism will create 200,000 jobs, and more than five million tourists will visit annually.