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December 12, 2009

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Towns targeted for tourism

QUAINT and beautiful Chinese towns are ripe for tourism and a new project aims to target and develop them to attract visitors without turning them into tacky tourist traps. Xu Wei reports.

China is filled with delightful but lesser-known towns that have great tourism potential.

A recent project to identify towns and target them tasteful eco-tourism has been underway since June. Twenty towns were visited, 15 were honored in a recent ceremony.

The first "China Untapped, Discover Treasured Towns" awards ceremony hailed 15 towns for their beauty, culture and huge tourism potential.

Picturesque Weishan County in Yunnan Province won the golden prize due to its long history, stunning natural scenery and rich cultural relics.

Wuzhen, a watertown in Zhejiang Province, garnered the jury grand prix.

The project was sponsored by International Channel Shanghai, Tongji Urban Planning and Design Institute and Channel News Asia, and assisted by Shanghai Daily and Travel Times.

Over the past half year, experts and TV cameramen visited around 20 provinces and regions for the shooting.

Some towns feature fairyland landscapes, some have well-preserved architecture, some are known for culture.

They all belong to China's diverse small and medium towns.

Eleven feature episodes about these towns will be aired on ICS for two weeks starting this Monday at 8pm, running Monday through Friday. Related programs will be aired on Channel News Asia.

"We hope to arouse public awareness to discover, protect and develop China's distinctive towns," says Wang Lijun, deputy executive director of ICS.

The jury for the project includes architects, urban planners, media critics and land property developers. At a forum they discussed environmental protection and economic development of these towns through tourism.

Professor Ruan Yisan from Tongji University says many treasured towns and villages throughout the world are under the threat of losing their own distinctive characteristics in a period of rapid urbanization.

"It requires local governments to make more scientific evaluation and planning for the future of these town, whose cultural and historical values might be overlooked," professor Ruan adds.


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