The terms "centenarian" and "cashing in" are rarely used in the same breath among tourism officials, but that may be changing—at least in a remote county in the Guangxi Zhuang region of China.
The mountainous Bama county has been dubbed the "hometown of longevity" by the International Natural Medicine Society because it has so many elderly folks: there are 73 centenarians, creating a ratio of 30.8 per 100,000 (the international standard meanwhile, is a mere 25 per 100,000).
What's their secret? Apparently, that's what tourists want to know. According to the Xinhua news agency, more than 180,000 travelers visited the area over the recent National Day holiday—up 62 percent compared to last year.
Tourists want to "taste what these centenarians have every day, and breath in the fresh air we have," says the head of the tourist board, while one visitor told reporters that he was there to enjoy "the germ-killing negative oxygen ions in the air."
It sure makes that green smoothie from your favorite hotel spa seem kinda feeble, doesn't it?
On the bright side, Bama county officials hope that the emerging tourist scene, with its growing number of small inns, will help elevate more locals out of poverty. This should be a growth industry, too: The county has, in its back pocket, another 252 residents over the age of 90.