A workstation has been launched in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to promote sustainable tourism and cultural development. Jointly created by Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and Xinjiang University, it is located in Turpan city's Toglug village.
Known for being one of Northwest China's historical and cultural villages, Toglug is characterized by its well-preserved, traditional Uygur mud-brick buildings and is home to 67 Uygur households.
"A new development mode managed by the joint workstation will help not only increase the income of villagers and improve livelihoods, but also better protect the village's traditional architecture and culture and its natural resources," said Bao Jigang, a professor at the School of Tourism at Sun Yatsen University.
The new mode, which draws on the successful development of Azheke, an ancient village in the Honghe prefecture in Yunnan province, will be introduced to Toglug. "The size of Toglug is similar to that of Azheke, which is also of great historical and cultural significance," Bao said.
In 2018, the Guangzhou-based university launched a vitalization plan in Azheke, which lies deep in the mountains on the outskirts of Yuanyang county, sitting amid millennia-old Hani rice terraces that are a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Under the plan, villagers in Azheke were given help setting up tourism development companies to operate and manage their traditional houses independently, without outside capital.
According to Bao, the university will send graduates to work in Toglug, to develop an understanding of its specificities and train villagers in tourism, and cultivate their sense of responsibility toward passing on and promoting their cultural heritage.
Sun Yat-sen University set up a laboratory dedicated to the sustainable development of historical and cultural tourism in Xinjiang with Xinjiang University in 2019, after the two established a cooperation relationship. The workstation in Toglug is seen as one of the two universities' main joint projects.
"We will provide strong support in terms of personnel, funds and projects, selecting academic leaders and setting up a research team with teachers from Xinjiang University to focus on the excavation and reproduction of Xinjiang's history and culture," Bao said.
According to Feng Fanli, deputy Party chief of the Xinjiang University, the university will fully support the development and construction of the workstation by encouraging teachers and students to contribute their thoughts.