Dayan Old Town in Lijiang city, Yunnan province. Both are known for their rich cultural legacy. [Photo provided to China Daily] Program seeks to boost the countryside economy by promoting the cultural and historical appeal of rural areas among young tourists, Yang Feiyue reports. A program to revive rural areas and tap into their culture and tourism was launched in the capital on Thursday. The Discover Ancient Villages program is led by the China Cultural Relics Academy and will offer planning, marketing and publicity support for the protection and development of traditional villages accredited by the central government, especially those in the middle and west of the country. The program is expected to last for two years and serve at least 50 villages across the country. Traditional villages which abound in a rich history and cultural landscape are the biggest legacy of China's agricultural civilization, experts say. Traditional villages will play an important role in constructing the "dual circulation" development pattern (domestic and overseas markets are expected to reinforce each other, with the former acting as the mainstay), adjusting urban-rural relations and reinforcing China's cultural heritage, says Shan Jixiang, head of the China Cultural Relics Academy and former director of the Palace Museum. "Cultural heritage should no longer be locked in a warehouse but should return to people's lives," Shan says. "Only by enabling people, especially young people, to experience the charm of traditional villages and their cultural heritage, will they develop the passion and initiative to protect them, truly realizing the inheritance of Chinese culture." To date, the country has approximately 6,800 accredited traditional villages and many of them are facing challenges.