Bringing prosperity to paradise

Publish Time: 2019-07-09 Author: From: China Daily

Yaks graze in the Napahai Nature Reserve in Shangri-La city. [PHOTO BY XU LIN/CHINA DAILY]

Shangri-La is developing tourism to alleviate poverty, Xu Lin reports.

Yunnan province's Shangri-La city has long lured travelers from home and abroad, who seek to discover the paradisiacal place described in British author James Hilton's 1933 novel, Lost Horizon.

But its association with the "mystical, harmonious valley" described in the book-especially since Diqing Tibetan autonomous prefecture's Zhongdian county changed its name to Shangri-La in 2001-is bringing newfound prosperity to the settlement, which became a city in 2014.

Its name translates from the local Tibetan dialect as, "the sun and the moon in one's heart".

But many visitors to the area fail to see that, behind the romantic foreground, it has long remained one of the lowest-income communities in China. Forty-five villages fall below the poverty line.

That's largely because of the natural features that conjure its splendid scenery.

Shangri-La's average altitude is nearly 3,460 meters, and roughly 94 percent of its terrain is mountainous. It's not easily accessible and is prone to such natural disasters as floods.

A huge bow of the Jinsha River, an upper section of the Yangtze. [PHOTO BY XU LIN/CHINA DAILY]

Yunnan's government announced on April 30 that Shangri-La had officially escaped poverty.

Tourism has proved integral to poverty alleviation.

The city welcomed over 18 million visitors and generated 20.6 billion yuan ($3 billion) in tourism revenue last year.

Major Chinese travel operator CTS Group recently staged the Shangri-La Tourism Culture Festival, featuring traditional Tibetan equestrian performances.

CTS showcased the achievements of its poverty-alleviation tourism program and several travel products designed for it.

The group has sent seven senior employees to take temporary positions in Yunnan's government to develop tourism to alleviate poverty. They include Jiang Lili, who works as Shangri-La's deputy mayor.

"The group's new tourism products are combined with local cultural experiences, such as dining, ethnic folk culture and traditional dances," Jiang says.

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