Travel Fad Du Jour: PRC Communist 'Red Tourism'

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 8/31/2011 12:24:00 AM
Revisionism, or Right opportunism, is a bourgeois trend of thought that is even more dangerous than dogmatism. The revisionists, the Right opportunists, pay lipservice to Marxism; they too attack "dogmatism". But what they are really attacking is the quintessence of Marxism - Mao Zedong

So we've heard of eco-tourism and political tourism. Without irony, an unrepentant Marxist professor here in the UK I know boasted of how one of the main benefits of the West opening up to China has been the Communist Party profitably commissioning him to do research into Marxist thought. Even with the PRC's bastardized "market socialism," "market authoritarianism," or whatever your pet name for it is, there remains an innate drive to prove that they are socialists at heart. Strange but true.

Hiring British political scientists aside, what better way is there than to create a Disneyfied version of the CCP's history than with various locales packaged as placeholders for a proud tradition? The Hongyan Village Revolutionary Memorial Hall awaits. Elsewhere, they call it the stuff of national myth. However, in the land of these profit-seeking "Marxists," it was perhaps inevitable that they too would retell their history of the workingman's triumph [sic] in a profitable fashion. Ah, the paradoxes of modern China filtered through the exigencies of tourism. From TIME:
[T]he project shows the scale and ambition behind China's push to revitalize red tourism. For years, the industry has been dominated by sleepy tours of leaders' homes and historical sites. That's changing. Chongqing's Hongyan village, where hundreds of communists were rounded up and killed by Chiang Kai-shek's forces in the late 1940s, is a prime example. Tourists now swarm the village's museums, where the local government recently staged a play about its historical events. Along the trail of the Long March, tourists take classes on making straw shoes, the ad hoc footwear the communist soldiers famously wore during the epic 1930s walk. The government in Sichuan province also recently announced a plan to spend $375 million on building nine highways connecting the region's major red-tourism attractions.

Red tourism is a big business. Between 2004 and '10, a total of 1.35 billion people have gone on red tours, an average year-on-year increase of 20%. According to the country's state-run news agency, Xinhua, China's revenue in red tourism totaled $20.3 billion in 2010.

However, the red-tourism market depends heavily on government-sponsored group tours, says Wu Chengzhong, associate professor of public administration at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. For example, Xibaipo village, which is located 170 miles to the southwest of Beijing and briefly served as the Chinese Communist Party's headquarters in the late 1940s, would have been an unlikely tourist destination if it hadn't been for government-sponsored red tourism. "For most people, it's not exactly a tough call between vacationing on the beach and visiting some run-down buildings in the middle of nowhere," Wu says.
For realism's sake, I'd suggest overnight stays at reeducation camps instead of posh hotels for that genuine Cultural Revolution feel. So, er, pay up you capitalist roaders, and retake the righteous footsteps of Mao Zedong's ideological heirs. Or something like that ;-)