It’s not surprising that Yunnan province’s Dali has emerged as a travel hotspot in China. While its idyllic rice paddies, surrounding mountains, a picturesque lake, historic structures, and a rich blend of cultures, has attracted the typical influx of eager developers hoping to cash in on tourism, Dali and its surrounding area is also on the forefront of tourism focused on preservation and sustainability.
A prominent example is the Linden Centre, which an American named Brian Linden and his wife opened in 2009 in the historic village of Xizhou outside Dali. The Bai-style property, which houses a boutique hotel and has undergone extensive renovation work, has gained praise and accolades both in China and the United States.
“Having lived in China off and on since 1984, we have watched with great pride China develop into a thriving economic power and increasingly civil society,” Mr Linden told Jing Daily. “However, we have also seen China ravaged by egregious business practices, short-term planning, and a general pernicious pursuit of profit at the expense of China’s tangible and intangible cultural resources.”
China’s travel industry favors “the short-term profit motives of outside businessmen eager to hastily exploit tourism opportunities” he said. For example, “90 percent of hotels were illegal as of 2015 in Dali. Most of these hotels are started by outsiders who want to play in Dali for a few years and reap profit in as short of time as possible. They pose unfair competition to companies like ours who do everything legally.”
Fortunately, demand for unique places to stay and sustainable travel is growing among Chinese travellers. And the restoration of historical sites by private businesses has been a growing trend in China.