The city of Guangyuan has thrived by following a principle that "clear waters and green mountains are as valuable as gold and silver" and putting it to practice through green and low carbon development in recent years, Mayor Zou Zijing, who is also a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), told China.org.cn on March 9.

Zou said Guangyuan's biggest advantage lies in its environment, which acts as a lifeline for the city, underpinning its future development.

Guangyuan is located in the north of Sichuan province, with beautiful rivers, mountains, and historical sites. Zou said the city has ramped up efforts to pursue green development in recent years, winning a number of Chinese environmental awards such as the top livable city and low carbon city.

The mayor said the next steps for Guangyuan's green development will continue to take ecological civilization construction as the priority. Efforts will be made in restoring its ecological system, combating pollution, developing green industries, and promoting the application of energy conservation and low-carbon technologies.

With a forest coverage of 56.81 percent, Guangyuan has an abundance of clear water with water quality reaching ClassⅡ, and 95 percent of days with good air quality in the city. The temperatures change within a comfortable range all year round. All these present a pleasing environment for tourism in the city.

In 2018, Guangyuan received 50.28 million tourists, generating a revenue of 41.9 billion yuan, increasing by 11 and 25 percent from previous year, respectively. Zou explained that by carrying out development strategies around green economy, the city tapped into the potential of its well preserved natural resources and benefited the people as well.

The city also plans to step up infrastructure construction and develop its public service system, in a bid to match tourism development demands. In an effort to develop tourism, it also plans to build tourist attractions such as hot spring resorts.

In addition to abundant natural resources and various scenic areas, Guangyuan also preserves many historical heritages. The city has a history of more than 2,300 years as an important strategic location. It was also the birthplace of China's only empress from the Tang Dynasty, Wu Zetian.

Historical heritages are non-renewable resources, and protection should be put in place as a priority, Zou said. The city will carry out major projects including the protection of cultural relics, historical sites, and intangible cultural heritages.

Guangyuan also plans to deepen the integration of culture and tourism, continuously upgrading and optimizing the industrial structure, and lifting more people out of poverty.

By 2020, the city plans to foster four leading cultural and tourism enterprises, with output value of each reaching 100 million yuan. Zou said he expects the number of tourists to surpass 60 million, the revenue from the cultural and tourism industry to reach 60 billion yuan, and the value added from the industry to account for over 15 percent of the city's GDP.