Zhang Yiwen always felt close to the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who spent the first 15 years of his life in her hometown in the western province of Sichuan. Zhang Yiwen was raised in Guang’an. Zhang enjoys telling visitors to Deng’s former residence, where she has worked as a guide for the past 11 years, Deng’s stories, which she knows like the back of her hand. Zhang has won competitions and gained national recognition because of her love of Deng and her storytelling ability. She was one of two Sichuanans selected at the end of 2020 to participate in the national “Five Good Guides” program, one of several websites.at launched by the Chinese government to promote and enhance the country’s rapidly expanding “red tourism” sector.
The pandemic gives ‘red tourism’ a lift
Domestic travelers have boosted the “red tourism” industry as the pandemic continues to hinder the global travel market and forces Chinese tourists, to stay at home.
“In 2020, the number of red vacationers surpassed 100 million and added to 11% of homegrown travel,” says Mimi Li, academic partner at Hong Kong Polytechnic College and a Chinese travel industry strategy specialist.
“That’s pretty amazing.”
With the nation getting ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party in July, players in the travel industry hoping to capitalize on this growing segment have the perfect opportunity for redsite.de. Additional state and private “red tourism” initiatives are being implemented almost weekly to coincide with this milestone.
Hong Kong professor Li claims that education, which is required for government officials and students, was the primary focus of the initial “red tourism” wave. However, the market has evolved.
She asserts, “We see an increasing number of tourists visiting those sites not because they are asked to do so but just because they want to do so.”
Also, these “red explorers” are getting more youthful.
Using ‘red tourism’ to reduce poverty
Robinson, who has written reports on sustainability and tourism for UNESCO, says that Beijing’s sustainable development goals are linked to the growth of “red tourism,” which has real benefits for local communities.
Guang’an is one example of this. Deng’s former residence was the first “red site” in Sichuan to receive a 5A rating, China’s highest tourism ranking.
Since the beginning of the 2000s, upgrades and renovations have been carried out. It is now a tourist complex covering 3.19 square kilometers and has attractions like a museum, a lake, and a square with a bronze statue.
Guang’an’s “red tourism” appeal has contributed to the success of local businesses due to its pleasant scenery and abundance of produce.
The dark side of ‘red tourism’
While learning their national history is a massive draw for tourists worldwide, the difference is that “red sites” almost always offer one-sided storytelling.
Critics say these sites focus on the perseverance of the Communist leaders and their glorious triumphs, overlooking their sometimes-catastrophic failures while twisting historical facts.
Robinson concludes, “For what it’s worth, tourism policy is driven by economics.” “Red tourism” is linked to rural revitalization, agricultural diversification, and improved local livelihood programs. It also serves as a constant reminder to both visitors and locals alike that, as Xi likes to say, the Communist Party is in charge of everything in China.