Nantong's forest protection leads to greener tourism
National-level environment festival set to showcase beautiful natural environment of Yangtze River Delta
The 2019 China Forest Tourism Festival is set to take place from Oct 18 to 20 in the city of Nantong, located in East China's Jiangsu province.
The national-level event, organized by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, aims to promote tourism in forest areas, and has become a popular way for cities to promote and publicize their efforts in environmental protection.
The festival has been held annually since 2015, taking place in a different city each time.
This year's festival will showcase the natural environment in 11 provinces and municipalities located in the Yangtze River Economic Belt.
According to the organizers, the event will feature an opening ceremony, a conference on forest tourism and several promotional activities for Nantong as well as other provinces and cities located in the Yangtze River Delta.
Nantong's local administration has also prepared an assortment of cultural activities including a concert, an international marathon, a dragon boat race, a flower exhibition and a food festival.
Located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Nantong is a transport hub for the Yangtze River Delta region, and an ideal location to host the event, according to local officials.
The mascots for the festival are a pair of dolls named Nan Nan and Tong Tong. Their design is inspired by the renowned five mountains in Nantong, and incorporates local elements such as blue calico, the city tree (southern magnolia), the city flower (chrysanthemum) and waves.
Nantong has long had a reputation for respecting nature. More than a hundred years ago, Zhang Jian, a sage born in the city, advocated for the first tree-planting festival and proposed the creation of the first forest protection law in modern Chinese history, according to Lu Zhipeng, secretary of the CPC Nantong committee.
Lu said the upcoming festival would highlight Nantong's efforts in urban construction, city management, tourism and the protection of the natural environment.
Xu Huimin, mayor of Nantong, said the forest festival will also help to build strong support for the greater forest belt project on the north bank of the Yangtze River. He added that more efforts should be made to improve the quality of the city's tourism industry as a whole, including more services and activities.
Forest tourism has become one of the three pillars in terms of income for forestry and grassland industries in China and is growing rapidly, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
In the first half of 2019, there were over 900 million visits to forest areas across China, accounting for 30 percent of the total number of domestic visits around the country, and up 14 percent year-on-year, according to a Nantong official.
The total value of forest tourism in 2018 was 850 billion yuan ($120 billion), up 13 percent year-on-year.
According to the Nantong survey team of the National Bureau of Statistics, 98.3 percent of people in the city are satisfied with current environmental protection efforts directed toward forests.
Nantong has opened 25 forest education centers and hosts more than 10 scientific and educational activities centered on forests each year.
The north of Nantong features the renowned five mountain scenic area. [Photo by Tong Xuan / For China Daily]