FESTIVALS TOURISM AND CULTURE IN THE THREE GORGES RESERVOIR AREA

The logo of the last “China Yangtze River Three Gorges International Tourism Festival”

The Three Gorges Reservoir Region – a national center for tourism in Chongqing – in recent years has hosted important cultural festivals, which intend to give impetus to the area and promote the knowledge of its beauties.

Festivals are in fact closely connected with people and, broadly, with human culture. They play a key role in the tourism sector by creating memories and stories, highlighting mundane everyday experience, elevating people’s spirit, and celebrating human experience.

The trend of “Festival tourism” in recent years has seen many researchers and professors carry out interesting research. As Gibson and Steward argue (Gibson and Steward (2009), Reinventing rural places. The extent and impact of festivals in rural and regional Australia, Research Report, Wollongong (Australia research council, University of Wollongong)), the term “festival” should possess the following characteristics: “being used in the event name; it is an irregular, one-off, annual or biennial event, emphasis on celebrating, promotion of convergence for people.” Just look to the last year to find several cultural festivals of great interest in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area. First of all, the recent “China Yangtze River Three Gorges International tourism festival” link1 & link2, which took place this year from July to November, but also the “Wushan Three Gorges Red Leaves Festival”, held in the fascinating location of Wushan. Along the course of the Yangtze River then there are also the “Metropolitan Tourist and Cultural Festival“, the “Miao Ethnic Groups’ Mountains Festival” in Wansheng and the “Dazu Stone Carving Art Festival“.

All these occasions seek to exploit the beauty of the region, and to bring as many tourists as possible along the banks of the Yangtze River, as well as create a driving force of economic development opportunities for the organizers, with the hope that the activities will also have repercussions on the local population.

Last November in particular, the “Forum on the Yangtze River Three Gorges Tourism” was held in the Wanzhou District, with the participation of experts such as Xiao Qianhui, Gao Shunli, Xu Bing, Luo Cibai. During the Forum, it was emphasized that the three “tourism pluses”, namely sports + tourism, cruises + derivation” & “culture + technology” formula was important for the promotion of the Three Gorges Region. In this sense, the cultural richness of the region, if exploited in a practical and positive way, can certainly offer a driving force for the development of local tourism.

The “Three Gorges area” activities have been recently promoted in two cities of Northeastern Chongqing Municipality: Fengjie and Wanzhou. In the first location, the project entitled “Return to the Three Gorges” was launched, a scenic work by the world-famous director Zhang Yimou. The event received national and international coverage, making the public aware of the long history of Fengjie, also called the “City of Poets”. The “return” is not only symbolic: as analyzed in the first article on the area of ​​the three gorges, the number of tourists in the region has increased exponentially in recent years. By using the term “return”, we can also rediscover the culture and values ​​of the region. In this way local authorities hope the initiative will inaugurate a “new era for tourism” in the region.


Pictures from Chinadaily.com.cn
Pictures from Chinadaily.com.cn

The second city, Wanzhou, has seen in recent months several festivals that have tried to enhance and promote the culture of local food. An example is the development of the eighth “Three Gorges Gourmet Culture Festival” and the second “Wanzhou Roast Fish Festival”. Local food and the theme of food tourism in general are fundamental elements for understanding the culture of the region, especially in the Municipality of Chongqing, where food, history and culture are indivisibly linked. Wanzhou was also the site of the “Three Gorges Citrus Fruit International Trade Fair”, held last February.

Wanzhou District is also famous for hosting the Yunyang county with the Longgang Scenic Area, characterized by the presence of karst (pit), deep karst caves, rocky grasslands, towering stalagmites, the usual valleys, mountain peaks, and dense forests. The Area is praised as “the last Shangri-la of the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River”. In the area a must-see place is the “Cloudy glass bridge”, which is built at an altitude of 1,010.5 meters and gives tourists the feeling of getting lost in the void. The scenic area is considered a museum of natural science and a showplace of geological landscape. From a cultural point of view, the area is interesting due to the presence of the Tujia ethnic minority, whose traditions, typical dishes and kindness can be appreciated.

Marco Bonaglia

Il Cloudy glass bridge, picture by Marco Bonaglia


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