Jiangsu, Oct 8 — Rest and service areas (RSAs) are so common along any expressway in China that no one usually notices them unless truly in need – to refuel car or simply take a nap. However, these pit stops in east China’s Jiangsu Province are no less popular than tourist attractions, especially during the National Day holiday.

”Jiangsu has the best RSAs” made it to the list of trending topics on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo. As of Wednesday morning, the hashtag had amassed over 310 million exposures.

How do RSAs in Jiangsu look like?

Featuring traditional gardens, artificial pools and modern shopping centers, the Yangchenghu RSA is located in Weiting Town along the expressway linking Shanghai and Nanjing. It is also equipped with a science and technology exhibition hall equipped with virtual reality (VR) exploration areas as well as a cultural heritage art center where visitors can admire art.

Separately, an RSA in Changzhou City has been built into a Jurassic-themed park. 

These RSAs are not just for the weary travelers looking for a quick stop, but also the locals who come here for recreation. You Qingzhong, former chief of the Department of Transport in Jiangsu Province, said the network of expressways started shaping up in Jiangsu Province in 1980s, and the local government paid a lot of attention in the planning stage. Therefore, he is not surprised at all by these fancy RSAs.

You said the network’s construction went through three stages: building the network, extending its coverage area, and improving public services. ”We insisted that we use one blueprint from the very beginning,” he said. 

”In the post-pandemic period, people prefer driving themselves while traveling, and the service areas here in Jiangsu meet their demands. No doubt they capture public attention,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, as of June 2020, China had at least 360 million vehicles, of which privately owned vehicles exceeded 200 million.

Anticipating a growing vehicular population and ever-increasing public demands, You said they had left enough room for the service areas in the construction plans, and as the Chinese travelers have higher requirements, it is easy for the authorities to make adjustments.

The RSAs in the province have been constructed in a way that they highlight the ”Jiangsu Style.” Besides providing services for the visitors, they also serve as windows to get acquainted with the cities and counties they are in. 

At the same time, these RSAs serve as a great way to boost the local economies.

”During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), aggregate income from consumption at the service areas in Jiangsu Province doubled, while the profit quadrupled,” You said.

The improvement plan is still underway, and within years, touring along the expressways in Jiangsu Province could be a new attraction for tourism enthusiasts, he added. 


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