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Fishing town cashes in on first rays of New Year

China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-09 10:53

A traditional dance is performed in Shitang township, Zhejiang province. [Photo/Xinhua]

HANGZHOU-The sun finally emerged from the horizon off the coast near Shitang township in Zhejiang province, greeting the Chinese mainland on the first day of the New Year.

Shitang became an instant hit 20 years ago when the mainland's first rays of sunshine in the new millennium hit the town.

Before then, Shitang was a tiny and little-known fishing town, with stone houses facing the East China Sea that have stood in the wind and rain for thousands of years.

The town's overnight fame brought with it enormous business opportunities.

In 1999, the city of Wenling, which administers the town, only received 556,000 domestic and foreign tourists with a revenue of just 334 million yuan ($47.8 million).

But in 2000, thanks to the sun, Wenling received 1.03 million tourists.

Since then, the "sunshine economy" has become an engine of Wenling's tourism. From 2001 to 2018, the number of tourists to Wenling continued to grow at an average annual rate of over 20 percent.

In 2018, it received 18.9 million tourists with total tourism revenue of 20.76 billion yuan.

The once trash-filled beach has been transformed into a spotless stretch ideal for sun viewing, with trails stretching along the sea and recreational facilities everywhere.

Shitang was once known as a "vacant village" as fishermen usually stayed out at sea for several months on end, leaving behind an unattended village.

However, incoming tourists have brought tremendous changes as the local government has increased investment and strengthened management.

Stone houses decorated with carved granite windows have been erected, and the clean bay and sea fascinate tourists.

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