Gala night and conference in Changzhi bring province's magnificence and charm into spotlight
The city of Changzhi in the southeast of Shanxi province hosted a gala night to promote cultural tourism on Sept 26, the same day the seventh Shanxi Conference on Tourism Development started in the city.
The gala, which took place by Zhangze Lake, offered dances, acrobatics, local operas and poem recitals. It demonstrated the beautiful scenery of the Taihang Mountains and revolutionary spirits of local people defined by courage and perseverance, the event's organizers said.
The Taihang Mountains extend about 400 kilometers and cover regions in Beijing municipality, Hebei, Shanxi and Henan provinces. Changzhi, near the heart of the mountains, boasts forest-covered hills, waterfalls, springs and creeks.
Noted scenic areas in the city include Baiquan Gorge, Tongtian Gorge, and Xiantang Mountain. It also includes the ancient Yuejiazhai village, which is known as a retreat away from the world, and the Zhangze Lake wetland park.
It is among the earliest regions in which human activity was discovered. It is home to Chinese legends such as Nyuwa, the goddess who created humans and mended the broken sky, and a legendary bird called Jingwei, which kept picking up stones and tree branches to fill up the sea.
Changzhi also houses one-third of the country's architectural structures built before the Song Dynasty (960-1279), known as a museum of ancient culture and architecture.
The city was also home to the headquarters of the Eighth Route Army, which was led by the Communist Party of China during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).
Zhang Qiong, director of the city's culture and tourism bureau, said Changzhi boasts one scenic area rated as 5A－the highest rank for China's tourist attractions, as well as 12 4A-rated scenic areas and an ecological culture and tourism demonstration area.
Bai Yansheng, renowned television anchor and image ambassador of Shanxi's culture and tourism, was invited to host the gala night.
Changzhi can represent some of the best prospects of Shanxi's tourism development, Bai said, adding that he would help showcase the city's and the province's magnificence and charm.
The conference, which ended on Sept 28, offered diverse activities, such as a gala night, an arts and handicraft products trade fair, a summit for innovative talents in the cultural and creative industry, an Eighth Route Army-themed culture and tourism festival and a promotional event for recreational vehicles.
The conference also had its own mascot whose design is based on the local handmade tiger toy called Lihou, a craft included on the national intangible cultural heritage protection list.
Items related to the mascot have been used to decorate Changzhi's streets and alleys, along with welcome scrolls hung on overpasses and pictures of Changzhi scenery in bus stations.
A variety of other events were also held around the conference. Among them were a marathon along Zhangze Lake, which attracted 3,000 athletes nationwide on Sept 19, a mountain climbing activity and a rock climbing competition held on Sept 19-20 as well as an exhibition of intangible cultural heritage.
Chen Yan, a tourist from Shanxi's capital Taiyuan, said: "I have sensed the strong ambience of the conference and hospitality of Changzhi people since I stepped out of the high-speed train."
"I've heard Zhangze Lake in autumn is picturesque and I will enjoy it."
A local taxi driver surnamed Li said the conference is a great and joyful event for Changzhi. "Everyone can be the city's image spokesperson and I will offer warm and polite service to help display its new image," Li said.
Wang Aiqin, head of the Shanxi Culture and Tourism Department, said the province has made culture and tourism integration an important means of improving development and promoted itself to become a cross-industry tourism demonstration area in recent years.