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Jinchang's Bewitching Lavender Fields Beckon Tourists


Last update: 13/10/2017


By Samantha Tan Chiew Tieng

JINCHANG (Bernama) -- Jinchang, located in Gansu province in northeastern China, seems to be swathed in purple. The moment I step into the city, the fresh fragrance of lavender flowers greets me.

I keep seeing purple everywhere. Even the public taxis and buses are painted in purple. Observing the calm demeanour of the locals, I cannot help wondering if the colour purple has a calming effect on people.

Previously known as the city of nickel due to its vast nickel reserves, Jinchang is now called the city of flowers as part of the authorities\' efforts to position it as a top tourist destination.

Its endless fields of purple-coloured lavender and verbena, as well as marigold and sunflower plants with their bright golden yellow blooms, are stunning to look at and provide an excellent backdrop for wedding photo shoots.



Gansu is deemed as one of China's hidden gems in terms of tourism potential. For centuries in the past, the province has been a significant passageway of the ancient Silk Road and a vital corridor between China and Central Asia.

Cities like Jinchang and Wuwei and Yongchang county in central Gansu are not as well-known to tourists as Dunhuang, located in the northwest of the province, which has famous attractions like the Mogao Caves and Mingsha Shan (Echo Sand Mountain).

The local authorities, however, have embarked on efforts to improve central Gansu's tourism appeal and thus, diversify its economy under China\'s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).



BRI is a Chinese-led investment programme that aims to create a web of infrastructure to enhance economic interconnectivity and facilitate development across Eurasia, East Africa and various partner countries.

GANSU BENEFITS FROM BRI

The writer was in Gansu as part of the Asian Media Workshop and 2017 Media Cooperation Forum on BRI that took place from Sept 11 to 22.

Organised by China's biggest media group People's Daily and the Communist Party of China's International Department, the workshop's in-class component was held in Beijing while the site visits centred on Gansu as the organisers wanted to show the media how the province, once one of China's poorest regions, is benefiting from BRI.

Tourism-wise, the colourful blooms of Jinchang, the red quinoa fields of Yongchang county, and the organic wines and ancient temples of Wuwei make these cities worth visiting.

The Communist Party of China's Jinchang Municipal committee general secretary Wu Ming Ming told the visiting journalists that the local government was working on developing Jinchang's tourism sector so that it can become a secondary income provider for the locals and help to improve their livelihood.

The city's lavender gardens share the ambience of some of France's famous lavender fields in Sault, Mont Ventoux, Senanque Abbey and Valensole.

French-inspired villas and hotels have been built near the gardens of Jinchang as accommodation for tourists and visitors.

According to Wu, some 3.3 million tourists visited Jinchang last year, most of them being locals.

"Most of our foreign tourists are from South Korea," she said, adding that Jinchang was still a "young" city in terms of tourism.

Jinchang's flower gardens are also poised to promote the growth of eco-friendly industries for the production of essential oils and potpourri, floral tea and plant pigments.

RED FIELDS OF YONGCHANG COUNTY

About an hour's drive away from Jinchang is Yongchang County - its vast red quinoa fields are eye-catching, to say the least. Quinoa is a species of the goosefoot genus, a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds.

Touted as a super grain due to broad nutritional profile, quinoa was originally grown in the South American countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile.

The grain was introduced to Yongchang County two years ago and it has since been successfully cultivated there.

This initiative has also improved the livelihood of the farmers in the county as their earnings have seen a five-fold increase.

Besides serving as a source of food for the locals, the quinoa produced in the county also faces good export prospects.

What is more, the breathtaking views of the harvested red quinoa are attracting tourists to the county.

The third city in central Gansu that our media group visited was Wuwei, which is also known as China's wine city.

Due to its location on the ancient Silk Road, this city has many historic sites and relics, including the Kumarajiva temple tower and the Baita temple, which was the venue of a ceremony where Tibet was officially incorporated into Chinese territory.

The Leitai temple in Wuwei was the place where the famous bronze statuette of the galloping horse was unearthed. Incidentally, the iconic galloping horse has been adopted as a symbol of China tourism by the National Tourism Administration.

-- BERNAMA