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Chongqing Forest Health Tourism Aims to Reset Industry Benchmarks Nationwide


Chongqing - Shizhu County, Chongqing, is set to host the Seventh China-Chongqing Health and Senior Care Conference over three days from September 19, focusing on forest-based health and recuperation. In advance of the opening ceremony, Shizhu has held a press conference to publicize its ecological and development resources in the drive to construct a national-level ecological resort while also setting a new economic benchmark for the Chengdu-Chongqing region.

The opening ceremony will feature guest speeches delivered by renowned experts on the theme of forest-based health and recuperation, while five key promotional events centered around Tujia minority culture will see activities held for investment attraction, live business consultation on-site, real estate projects, medicinal herb production, and sales, as well as the Tujia Cultural Travel Season.

Shizhu is home to a rich Tujia ethnic minority culture that blends with impressive natural scenery (Photograph/Shizhu Publicity Department)

The latest Health and Senior Care Conference will offer a platform to explore greater economic potential, enhance industry cohesion, and attract more expertise into the development of Shizhu County in the health tourism industry through win-win cooperation, transforming ecological resources into competitive advantages. 

Chongqing Health Tourism Making Rapid Gains

One of the best-known health tourism destinations worldwide is Mount Huangshan, located in Anhui Province, which boasts magnificent natural scenery that has inspired artists and literary figures since the Tang Dynasty. The scenic area listed as UNESCO heritage received 63.17 million visits in 2021, many of whom traveled to admire the four natural wonders of pine forests, rock formations, seas of clouds, and hot springs. 

However, Chongqing has now made significant advancements in health tourism over the past decade, based on the concept of forest health and recuperation on the plentiful resources of ecology, culture, food, and medicinal herbs, which have been integrated with science popularisation and improved tourism services. In 2020, the four Chongqing destinations of Shizhu County, Wulong Fairy Mountain, Yongchuan Bamboo Sea, and the Ba’nan Colour Forest, made the first list of 96 national forest health care bases.

Tianci Hot Springs in Bishan District is one of 30 resorts located near the Chongqing Urban Area, which attract millions of tourist visits per year as top health and recuperation destinations (Photograph/James Alexander)

Historically, the quintessential example of health and recuperation in Chongqing is none other than hot springs. An early illustration is the North Hot Spring Temple of Beibei District, which was built in 423 AD for visitors and Buddhist pilgrims, and the tradition continues to flourish in the present day with around 30 modern resorts within an hour of the main urban area, which receive nearly 15 million tourist visits every year.

Nanchuan District in Chongqing has long benefitted from natural advantages in the healthcare industry based on traditional Chinese medicine. Home to the popular 5A-rated Jinfo Mountain Scenic Area recognized officially as a world natural heritage, the district has constructed an herbal medicine planting base and distribution center and educational drives in health tourism aimed at rehabilitation and elderly care.

Infrastructure sets health tourism industry benchmark

Economic projections for 2027 foresee the health and senior care industry accounting for 55% of economic added value in Shizhu, with county-wide GDP set to reach 35 billion yuan. 

On the road to achieving this target, Shizhu aims to build a complete industrial system with demonstrative value nationwide. This involves the construction of a globally recognized industry base, the exploration of new development paths, and an international forest health and recuperation resort in place by the year 2035.

Tan Xiangping, Deputy Leader of Shizhu County, described in the press conference how the local tourist resort of Huangshui had enhanced its popularity and reputation nationwide since a new development campaign began in 2021 when the county mobilized available resources to improve the tourism experience in the seven key areas of catering, accommodation, transport, tours, shopping, entertainment and services.

Shizhu is an attractive city for tourism, now only an hour away from Chongqing by high-speed rail (Photograph/Shizhu Publicity Department)

For example, “51% of guest rooms industry-wide have reached three-star hotel standards. High-speed rail has brought Shizhu to within an hour’s travel time from the Chongqing Urban Area. There are new specialty shopping malls and commercial streets in operation, and the quality of tourist information has been comprehensively overhauled.” Tan explained.

Health tourism keeps pace with the times

The business concept of forest-based recuperation is central to the health industry of Shizhu County and is a key driver in the local cultural and tourism industry. At the press conference, Xiang Bing, Director of the Shizhu County Publicity Department, personally underlined the resources and experience that Shizhu has gained in this field to date, in addition to their future designs. 

“It is indispensable for us to develop a high-end forest-based health and senior care model that integrates recuperation, cuisine, products, sports, tours, experiences, and commerce through a smart, cultured, and professional industry base, setting the benchmark nationwide,” Xiang commented.

The forest coverage rate in Shizhu currently stands at 63%, with plans to increase the area by a further 141,000 square kilometers (Photograph/Shizhu Publicity Department)

Shizhu County has nearly 2000 square kilometers of prime forest resources that paved the way for economic transformation based on a green development path toward health and senior care. Following several years of effort, the county has successfully developed a batch of four 4A-rated scenic areas, combined with many health and recuperation projects that now support almost half the county’s GDP output.

Furthermore, to satisfy the latest development needs that originate from a more high-paced lifestyle and desire for high-quality living, Shizhu has revolutionized the leisure tourism model 1.0 in a way that immerses people more closely with the natural environment, with a focus on quality experiences in addition to mere capacity in numbers. 

A bright future awaits green tourism in Shizhu

Shizhu has closely followed the development concept that green mountains and lucid waters are invaluable treasures and has made full use of natural resources to develop the local economy while also taking necessary steps to ensure environmental protection.

Shizhu received over 8 million tourist visits in the year 2022, many of whom were attracted by the pristine yet modern natural environments (Photograph/Shizhu Publicity Department)

The county has a forest coverage rate of 63%, accounting for 465,000 acres. The yearly average temperature was 21 degrees Celsius, with fine air quality days over 350 and negative oxygen ions counting 2700 per cubic meter of air. 

As a result, Shizhu has received many accolades, such as ‘China’s Forest Oxygen Bar,’ while forest scenic areas, including the Qianye Grasslands resort, are among the first to be recognized as bases for forest health and recuperation at the municipal level.

Looking to the future, Shizhu aims to complete supporting infrastructure in the health tourism industry and increase the forested land area by a further 141,000 acres. This will allow the county to build on the 6.5 million tourist visits received in the first eight months of 2023, bringing a revenue in excess of 5 billion yuan. 


A Tour in Chongqing, A Gain in Vision

A Land of Natural Beauty, A City with Cultural Appeal

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