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320 villages listed as key rural tourism spots
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320 villages listed as key rural tourism spots

China will support the development of homestay accomodation in the countryside and will regard it as an important factor in the transformation and upgrading of the country's rural tourism, according to a rural tourism (homestay) works conference held Sunday in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, Xinhua reported.

A list of key rural tourism spots was also released at the conference, containing 320 villages in China that were jointly selected by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the National Development and Reform Commission.

The head of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism stressed at the conference that the standardized development of homestays in the countryside should be taken as an important starting point for the transformation and upgrade of rural tourism.

Countryside homestays should adhere to the village's own characteristics and should not become a clone of the city hotel or a refurbishment of agritainment, according to the head of the ministry.

It should also meet the needs of mass consumption instead of luxury consumption, which deviates from its original purpose.

The development of countryside homestays should combine with poverty alleviation work, the head of the ministry stressed, adding that farmers and financially-struck households should be encouraged and guided to participate in providing homestay services as a way of rising up from poverty.

Rural tourism should follow the path of green development and put rural protection as the primary concern. Large-scale demolition of rural buildings that will undermine the original style of the countryside should be avoided.

A plan to provide special financial support to key rural tourism villages in China was announced, with China Agricultural Bank providing a 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) credit limit to the nation's key rural tourism villages in the next five years.

Social capital is also welcome to take a part in the construction of countryside homestays, the head of the ministry said.

According to a report on national rural tourism development released at the conference, the total number of rural tourism visits reached 1.51 billion in the first half of 2019, an increase of 10.2 percent year-on-year, while the total income of rural tourism stood at 860 billion yuan, an 11.7 percent increase over the same period of 2018.

In addition, the total number of people employed in rural tourism in China reached 8.86 million by the end of June, an increase of 7.6 percent year-on-year. Yetao

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