The United Nations World Tourism Organization has released their list of the ‘Best Tourism Villages’ of 2022. The recognition was awarded to 32 villages from 18 countries across the five world regions, with two spots going to villages in China.
UNWTO specifies that “the accolade recognizes rural destinations that are embracing tourism as a driver of development and new opportunities for jobs and income, while preserving and promoting community-based values and products. The initiative also recognizes villages for their commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects – economic, social and environmental – and a focus on developing tourism in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
As a sustainable travel company, we are delighted to see two traditional Chinese villages selected for the list. The first of these, Dazhai, was used as the cover image for the UNWTO article, and is a bucolic settlement in the remote and rugged mist-wreathed hills of northern Guangxi province in southern China. The village is noted for the spectacular Longji – or Dragon’s Backbone – rice terraces, that cascade in great stairways down the surrounding hills, attracting visitors from across China and the world. The timber dwellings of the Red Yao, with their eaved roofs of tiled gray stone, complete Dazhai’s picturesque ensemble, while the unique culture and customs of this minority people are themselves a major draw for tourists.
The second village recognized by the UNWTO this year is Jingzhu, nestled amid the fairy mountains of Wulong in southwestern Chongqing, a municipality located deep in China’s interior. Jingzhu is known for a range of well-preserved traditional crafts, such as wax printing and bamboo weaving, as well as the use of traditional wood and leaf instruments. Both villages have successfully managed to preserve historic forms of agriculture, architecture and folk customs, while at the same time harnessing their attraction to the outside world to improve the economic livelihood of local residents.
Dazhai and Jingzhu join two other Chinese villages to have been recognized by the UNWTO since the organization began selecting the world’s best tourism villages in 2021. Yucun, in Anhui and Xidi, in Zhejiang, were selected in the inaugural year, and make up a contingent that will no doubt continue to grow as China’s tourism industry moves toward a sustainable future.