BEIJING (eTN) – More than 400 million people have taken “red tourism” holidays in the last three years in China, bringing in over $13.5 billion to many of the country’s most economically deprived areas, a state newspaper said on Wednesday.
The government has been promoting travel to places connected with the rise of Communist China as a way of instilling patriotism and Communist Party loyalty, and also to boost incomes in the mainly remote and rural areas where these sites are located. That campaign has proven successful, said the People’s Daily, the Party’s newspaper, with an estimated 100 billion yuan ($13.54 billion) generated already, a target which was supposed to have been hit only in 2010.
Almost 2 million people owed their jobs to the scheme, either directly or indirectly, the report said. Popular destinations include Chairman Mao Zedong’s hometown in the southern province of Hunan, and Yanan, where Mao and his cohorts lived in caves during the civil war’s dark days.
“Red tourism has had considerable economic benefits for old revolutionary areas,” it added. “It has become a catalyst for economic development in many of these places.” More than half the red tourists go under their own steam, as opposed to travelling with government paid-for groups, and one fifth are young people.
Beijing has also spent 2.15 billion yuan supporting the project, renovating old buildings and memorials, and built more than 2,400 km (1,491 miles) of connecting roads, it added. But the programme has proved unpopular with some old revolutionaries, who say it has led to the Disneyfication of what should be sacred sites and that it is immoral to make money from historical figures who were resolutely anti-capitalist.