A $300 million plan to turn a country town famous for fine porcelain into a major tourist destination gives clues as to how China’s new approach to stimulus works in reality.
Shenhou in central Henan province, home to the delicately-colored jun pottery since the Song dynasty about 1,000 years ago, began work in 2016 restoring its main street. The investment is starting to pay off: During February’s week-long Lunar New Year holiday, Shenhou saw a quarter of a million visitors, boosting tourism revenue 90 percent from a year earlier.
About $74 million (500 million yuan) alone was spent restoring Shenhou’s previously dilapidated Ancient Street, or Lao Jie, and its surroundings. Now, a walled archway greets visitors to the newly paved thoroughfare, where red lanterns and ornate roofs overlook shops stocked with fine earthenware.
Since last year, the government has doubled down on this kind of “targeted” stimulus, emphasizing the role of consumption and the promotion of a long-standing shift toward services and higher-value manufacturing — and away from expensive mega-projects.
Future plans include the construction of a traditional porcelain heritage park and a culture and art center, said Shanghai-based Joyu Group, the company contracted to run the town’s tourist area, in an emailed response to questions.
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