Yuncheng heritage sites enhanced by makeovers

Updated: Dec 15, 2023 By Han Nan China Daily Print
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Guangong Culture Street in Yuncheng is thronged with tourists. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The city of Yuncheng is planning to become a tourism powerhouse in Shanxi by strengthening the protection and utilization of its historical relics and cultural heritage.

The city, as one of the birthplaces of China's ancient civilization, boasts rich historical and cultural legacies. Centering on its goal of building a tourism powerhouse, Yuncheng has launched initiatives to enhance the management of travel-related cultural relics, integrate tourism with culture and upgrade infrastructure.

The initiatives aim to bring vitality to the ancient cultural assets and give better play to the social and cultural values of the local heritage sites, local officials said.

One of the first tourism spots to benefit from the initiatives is the Guandi Ancestral Temple Scenic Spot. The temple was built in tribute to Yuncheng native Guan Yu, a famed general during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280). Guan is regarded by locals as a symbol of faithfulness and courage.

The city's cultural protection unit has now taken charge of the protection of cultural relics of the temple, while the company of Guangong Cultural Tourism Development, founded in 2020, operates related cultural tourism activities.

The two parties are joining hands for an upgrading project, which is aimed to develop the site into the city's first 5A tourist attraction. 5A is the highest level of a tourist destination in the country.

Yuncheng has raised 3.6 billion yuan ($501.8 million) through the issuance of special bonds for the project and invited China's top cultural tourism designers to make construction plans.

In the past three years, the city invested 1.5 billion yuan to improve the infrastructure around the scenic spot. It has also established a series of supporting facilities such as a Guangong Culture Street, a tourist service center, smart parking lots and an ancient city ruins exhibition center.

The two-floor tourist service center, for example, has a construction area of 6,000 square meters, with a total investment of 158 million yuan. It includes a digital exhibition hall, which allows visitors to experience and immerse themselves in Guangong culture and history.

After the upgrade, the core area of the Guandi Ancestral Temple Scenic Spot increased from 26 hectares to more than 86 hectares.

Also, activities such as memorials held on the birthday of Guan and Guangong cultural festivals have been held in the scenic spot, attracting a vast number of tourists.

Official statistics showed that by the end of October, the scenic spots operated by Guangong Cultural Tourism Development received 3.18 million visits and achieved more than 56 million yuan in revenue.

Another tourism spot highlighted by the Yuncheng government is a salt culture-themed tourist resort. Dubbed China's Dead Sea, Yuncheng Salt Lake covers a total area of 132 square kilometers. Due to its rich mineral elements, the lake's black mud can be used to activate cells, refresh the skin and relieve fatigue.

The tourist resort under construction covers a total area of 62 sq km. It comprises such scenic spots as Phoenix Valley, Chiyou Cultural Park, a salt lake cultural park and a colorful salt lake scenic area.

The salt lake cultural park, for instance, is designed as a landmark project integrating historical exploration, sightseeing, cultural experience and science popularization. It opened to the public in December 2022.

Guangong Cultural Tourism Development is also the operator of the tourist resort. It plans to organize sailing and windsurfing events at the Salt Lake, to offer more options to tourists.

Li Ningbo and Wang Peng contributed to this story.

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