Where farm meets city, everyone can have fun
Agriculture and tourism are becoming more tightly intertwined in Beijing, and this is greatly helping the local economy, experts say.
They made the remarks at the China (Beijing) Leisure Conference on Sept 21.
A group of ecological parks and agricultural scenic spots have mushroomed in Beijing's suburbs in recent years, providing visitors, especially those living in cities, with more choices for leisure and entertainment.
Among them is Puran Ecological Park, located where Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin converge.
The park offers not only rural scenery, such as lotuses and plum blossoms, but also the opportunity to pick fresh fruit and vegetables, including strawberries, apples and dragon fruit.
It is equipped with modern recreational facilities, enabling tourists to play on trampolines and slides or ride karts, children's excavators and a merry-go-round in its playgrounds. The park covers 53.3 hectares and opened to the public in 2012.
Most park visitors go there to experience rural life, spend time with their children and play outdoor sports, said Li Xue, vice-president of the park. The park also serves as a venue for weddings and business conferences and provides visitor accommodation.
From June to August this year about 1,000 tourists visited the park each month, Li said.
When economic growth was in its early stages the amalgamation of agriculture and tourism was mainly refl ected through agricultural products, said Xu Ling, a lecturer at Beijing Technology and Business University, because agriculture can provide the raw material for catering to tourists.
As people's living standards have improved, their pursuit of high-standard enjoyment has become more prominent.
Products that agriculture can provide have subsequently gone beyond raw materials. A broader range of products and services related to agriculture has emerged, including natural resources, rural scenery and folk culture, Xu said.
In Beijing the rapid growth of tourism has helped to increase the demand for agricultural products and has encouraged local agricultural administrators to adopt more measures to upgrade infrastructure and produce facilities, which has given a fillip to agricultural production, Xu said.
Agriculture-themed leisure sites received 1.05 billion tourists in China in 2014, generating 360 billion yuan ($52.35 billion) in total business revenue and benefiting 40 million farmers, said Guo Qian, a researcher at Beijing Wuzi University.
It is estimated that agricultural leisure-themed tourism in China will be worth 590 billion yuan this year, Guo said.