This year is the year of the mid-term evaluation of the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and it is also a key year for China to consolidate and expand the achievements of poverty alleviation and effectively connect with rural revitalization. In the context of the global economic downturn, the tourism industry has fully recovered and grown steadily, and its role in global poverty alleviation has become more and more prominent.

As a comprehensive industry, tourism can create employment opportunities for the poor, bring considerable benefits, promote the coordinated economic development of poor areas, and promote the improvement of infrastructure construction, the improvement of the ecological environment, and the protection and innovation of traditional culture in poor areas, and play a unique role in helping rural revitalization and achieving common prosperity.

However, can the development of rural tourism necessarily lead to rural poverty alleviation? Is rural tourism necessarily sustainable? According to Bao Jigang, director of the Center for Tourism Development and Planning at Sun Yat-sen University and winner of the 16th Ulysses Award of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, "whether it is international or domestic, the answer is 'not necessarily'".

At the "11 WTA Xianghu Dialogue" held from November 15 to 17, Bao Jigang shared the concept of "tourism attraction property rights" and proposed that "tourism attraction property rights" are the guarantee for the sustainable development of rural tourism.

The "right to attract tourism" should be returned to the villagers

What is a "tourist attraction right"? Bao Jigang explained that the "tourism attraction right" refers to a kind of land grade income and its rights that are transformed from the tourism attraction value of land and its appurtenances. He further explains and illustrates this academic concept with several stories.

In 1999, Bao Jigang went to Guilin's Longji Rice Terraces to inspect and saw that the local government had organized a company to develop the Longji Rice Terraces tourism project, but it did not adopt good institutional arrangements for the local farmers, so the farmers could not benefit from it. The following year, Bao Jigang came to Longji Terraces again and found that some farmers had destroyed the terraces and wanted to open a commissary. In the third year, farmers began to block tourists from going up to the mountains to see the fields. After that, the government, the company and the local farmers negotiated and finally reached an agreement that would allow the local farmers to benefit from the tourism project as well. Now, the villagers of Longji Terraces have lived a prosperous life.

Similarly, there is the case of the Yuanyang Rice Terraces. In 2018, Bao Jigang conducted research in Yuanyang Terraces and found that a large state-owned company had been developing tourism here for 10 years, with ticket revenue of more than 1 million yuan, but local villagers did not receive any income. The problem remains unresolved, and Bao Jigang hopes that by developing a new scheme, most of the ticket proceeds will go to the farmers who cultivate the terraces, "because they are the creators of the terraced landscape".

Such examples are not uncommon in the development of rural tourism in China, such as the scenic construction of ancient villages. Bao Jigang said that some ancient villages were bought out by the company and turned into new villages, and all the aborigines were relocated. On the surface, local farmers have benefited from new homes, improved lives, and new homes. But in reality, they have lost the right to attract tourism. "This village contains a culture that has been produced and lived by more than a dozen generations, and the attraction generated by this culture has been preempted."

Bao Jigang believes that when the terraced rice fields used as production space and the ancient villages as living spaces are developed into tourism products that can be sold to tourists, they have a dual value - production/residence value and "tourist attraction" value. Therefore, Bao Jigang advocated that it is necessary to clarify the ownership right of "tourism attraction right", "'tourism attraction right' is attached to the land, and it is another property right created or enjoyed on the basis of the ownership of a certain item. Its rights should be collectively owned by the landowners. The villagers are the creators of tourist attractions, and they should return their rights to the villagers. Bao Jigang said.

A social practice to maintain the villagers' "tourism attraction property rights".

The "Azheke Plan" was born under the guidance of the theory of "tourism attraction property rights". In 2018, Bao Jigang's team brought the theory of "tourism attraction property rights" to Azheke Village, Yuanyang County, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, where they carried out a social practice that is still ongoing today.

Azheko is a very beautiful village, yet it used to be poor. There are no roads, and the houses are built of thatch. The photos show a unique atmosphere, but the conditions are very harsh: there is no hot water, no toilets, and the per capita annual income of the villagers is only 2700,<> yuan. There is a stark contrast between the impoverished villagers and the rich tourist attraction. This "rich" and impoverished village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Protecting heritage, developing tourism, and alleviating poverty were the triple tasks faced by Bao Jigang's team back then.

After full research, in January 2018, Bao Jigang's team proposed the "Azheke Plan", the core of which is the "tourism attraction property right". That is, the villagers take 1% of the tourism attractions such as villages, terraces, production and lifestyle, and the government invests 70 million yuan to account for 300%, and establishes a village collective tourism company, which is carried out by the team of Sun Yat-sen University to carry out public welfare technical assistance, carry out the overall transformation of the village, and collect fees from tourists in a unified manner, and the income belongs to all villagers and dividends. The rule of dividends is that 30% will be returned to the village collective tourism company for the company's daily operations; Seventy percent goes to the villagers, and the dividends returned to the villagers are distributed according to the "4321" standard: 40% for residential buildings, 30% for terraced fields, 20% for residence, and 10% for household registration. At the same time, such a dividend standard also restricts the villagers, requiring each household to sign and promise by handprint that traditional houses will not be rented, sold or destroyed, not to introduce any foreign social capital, and not to allow local villagers to operate in a disorderly manner and not to destroy traditions. Bao Jigang said that such a model not only ensures the sustainability of rural tourism development, but also maintains the sustainability of culture.

In March 2019, the villagers of Azheke Village ushered in the first dividend, and each household received 3,1600 yuan. The villagers were thrilled when they got the money, and many of them "saw so much cash for the first time in their lives". The villagers were initially skeptical about tourism development, believing that they could increase their income by living in the village and cultivating the land. After getting the dividends, the villagers not only dispelled their doubts, and were very cooperative with the work of Bao Jigang's team, but also full of gratitude to them, there is an old woman in the village, 85 years old this year, and when the third dividend, she said excitedly to Bao Jigang: "You are good, the money has been given 3 times, and you will live longer than me." "On the eighth dividend, the old woman said the same thing again. After a meeting with Bao Ji, some villagers even picked fresh vegetables from the field for him to eat.

Bao Jigang revealed that at present, the "Azheke Plan" has carried out a total of 8 dividends, with a total of 143.2 million yuan, with an average of more than 2,<> yuan per household, and the poorest families are the most distributed. The "Azheke Plan" has also become one of the "Top <> Tourism Poverty Alleviation Cases in the World".

What are the biggest benefits of the "endogenous collective enterprise-led development model" such as the "Azheke Plan" for the villagers? In the words of the villagers of Azheko, the answer is, "Where there is a home, there is a job, and where there is a job, there is a home." In Bao Jigang's view, "the most important thing in the development of rural tourism is to let villagers work at their doorstep, so that they have time to take care of the elderly and children."

The "Azheke Project" model may not be suitable for all villages, "It is more suitable for promotion in areas where the passenger flow is not very large and the operating costs are low." Bao Jigang said. However, its exploration of the institutionalization path of "tourism attraction property rights" is worthy of promotion and research.

"Acknowledging and respecting the" tourism attraction property rights "is the guarantee of the sustainable development of rural tourism, only the implementation of the" tourism attraction property rights ", rural poverty alleviation will not be a policy poverty alleviation, nor will it be a kind of capital show, more importantly, tourism attraction must be priced, there must be shares, in order to develop sustainably." Bao Jigang concluded.

China Youth Daily, China Youth Network reporter Xia Jin Source: China Youth Daily