Xidi and Yucun, two villages in eastern China, were on Thursday listed among the 44 best examples of villages that embrace tourism to provide opportunities and promote sustainable development.
The list of “Best Tourism Villages 2021” was made public at an event held here on the sidelines of the 24th General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The “Best Tourism Villages” initiative aims to promote the role of tourism in protecting rural villages, along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, local values and activities, including local gastronomy.
The General Assembly recognized 44 villages from a list of 174 candidates in 32 countries.
The village of Yucun, located in Anji County of east China’s Zhejiang Province, is often referred to as the “beautiful town” as its environmentally conscious local authorities treasure the area’s clear waters and green mountains to benefit the locals.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the village based its economy on the area’s high-quality mineral resources and became the “richest” community in Anji — but it also paid a high price for pollution.
In recent years, Yucun has made great efforts to improve its environment and by now it has become a popular tourist destination. In 2017, it welcomed 400,000 domestic and international visitors and was awarded the title of National Ecological Cultural Village.
Xidi is located just 40 km from the Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) tourist attraction. The history of the village dates back around 1,000 years. It is surrounded by mountains and known for its unique, elegant black tile roof wooden houses and decorative gate towers.
Xidi ranks among China’s ten most important historic and cultural settlements. It became a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site in 2000 and was named a national 5A-class scenic spot.
For the UNWTO listing, the villages were evaluated by an independent Advisory Board based on a set of criteria, including cultural and natural resources, promotion and conservation of cultural resources, and economic and social sustainability.
Also on Wednesday, the UNWTO General Assembly reelected Zurab Pololikasvili with a comfortable majority for a second term as secretary general. His mandate lasts until 2025.