As domestic consumption demands are shifting toward leisure travel, as well as spiritual and cultural enjoyment, destinations nationwide are strengthening efforts to achieve integrated development of the cultural and tourism industries.

Tens of thousands of tea merchants and visitors gathered at a recent tea expo in Wuyishan, in Southeast China”s Fujian province.

They came to enjoy the tea and the river and mountain views in the city, which has been shortlisted to become a national demonstration zone for the integrated development of the cultural and tourism industries.

“Tea and tourism are the dual engines of economic development in Wuyishan,” said Wang Xiaojun, the head of its culture, sports and tourism bureau.

In recent years, Wuyishan has launched a series of tea-related experiences for the public, such as gathering around a stove for brewing tea and picking tea at local plantations, Wang said.

In addition, tea-themed spaces and products have been created, including homestays, museums and food and beverages.

Last year, the city received 15.5 million visitors, up 9 percent compared to 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue hit 21.6 billion yuan ($3 billion), an 8 percent increase over 2019, according to local authorities.

Wuyishan aims to become a world-class tourist destination and a reception hall for Fujian, creating a model area for integrated culture and tourism development, Wang said.

This involves enhancing core scenic areas, emphasizing ecological experiences, upgrading resort areas, introducing new nighttime consumption activities and promoting the integration of culture and tourism in villages and towns around Wuyishan National Park, Wang added.

In Yangshuo county, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, improving cultural and tourism experiences has enabled visitors to better enjoy its green mountains, clear waters and exquisite caves, which have been recognized by the World Tourism Organization as one of the world’s best vacation spots.

“We’ve comprehensively carried out the ‘tourism plus’ strategy (integrating tourism and other sectors) and developed five major cultural and tourism industrial clusters,” said Huang Xiaoxue, head of the county.

Luxury hotels, distinctive shopping areas, exquisite homestays, distinctive cultural performances and outdoor activities such as rock climbing, cycling and hang gliding have enhanced tourists’ experiences, Huang said.

Last year, the county received 21 million traveler visits, up 47.8 percent year on year, according to the county government.

Total tourism revenue reached 29 billion yuan, up 53.4 percent.

More efforts will be put into the integrated development of the culture and tourism industries, Huang said.

Many other tourist attractions have created cultural tourism projects and products that promote traditional Chinese culture and have proved popular among travelers.

Last year, Jianmenguan (Jianmen Pass) in Guangyuan, Sichuan province, set up a Tang Dynasty (618-907) poem recitation challenge.

People who participate must recite a famous poem about the site. Visitors who successfully recite the poem can receive a free ticket to the scenic spot, said Xia Zhipeng, brand manager at Jianmenguan.

By the end of December, more than 62,000 people had participated, with about 57,000 earning free tickets.

Travelers to the area have spoken highly of the challenge and say it gives visitors an opportunity to learn about Jianmenguan’s past, Xia said.

In Hainan province, the Nanwan Monkey Islet has joined hands with a local Tanka (nomadic boat dwellers) culture museum to attract traveling families.

Tours of the islet feature fun interactions with the monkey and exposure to Tanka culture, and its distinctive ecological resources such as the mountains, sea and landscapes have been very popular with children, said Xing Fuhai, an official in charge of the islet’s marketing operations.

Xing said more efforts will be made to further optimize and enhance tourists’ experiences, including developing new content.

Last year, Gansu province made moves to integrate culture and tourism, including developing projects related to health, education and intangible cultural experiences, said He Xiaozu, head of the provincial culture and tourism department.

More than 600 culture and tourism projects were established, and 14.7 billion yuan was invested in the sector, said He.