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Scenic zone utilizes all-region tourism to alleviate poverty

Author:gzstcj  From:CHINA DAILY Time:2017-06-18 Browse:  Size: Big Middle Small

Despite its magnificent waterfall landscape and untouched natural scenery, the Huangguoshu scenic zone in Anshun, Guizhou province, is facing a tough road ahead in its efforts to lift villagers out of poverty and achieve sustainable development, according to local officials.

"The key to poverty alleviation is forming a whole tourism industry chain and encouraging poor households to take part in the process," said Xu Qing, deputy director of the zone's political department.

"We should implement targeted measures to advance all-region tourism and endeavor to change every village into a scenic spot," Xu said.

All-region tourism is different to traditional tourism as it replaces the idea of scenic sites being independent from the surrounding area. Instead, an entire region becomes a tourist destination.

This model will boost infrastructure, investment, culture and the economy, increasing prosperity throughout the whole area, according to local officials.

Last year, the zone's tourism revenue reached 7.7 billion yuan ($1.14 billion), up 50 percent year-on-year. The added value of the service industry accounted for 78.1 percent of the zone's gross domestic product. The zone plans to invest 30 million yuan per year in poverty alleviation.

Targeted strategies

Xu said that the burgeoning growth of the tourism industry has opened a window for villagers who still live below the poverty line.

By analyzing the advantages and resources of every village, the area will map out tailored plans for its 18 villages and 1,851 poor households. It will see which are suitable for certain strategies, such as promoting ethnic group cultures, opening farm stays and organic gardens, or developing sightseeing attractions.

To improve incomes and protect the local environment under the all-region tourism model, the zone first set its sights on organic farming.

One such demonstration area is the Daweng village in Baishui county, where oranges have helped numerous villagers to become prosperous and have attracted migrant workers to return to start their own businesses in their hometown.

Yang Lan, a local villager who oversees 1.32 hectares of orange trees, said she is satisfied with her life because she no longer needs to search for unstable work far from home. "Planting oranges has been the most important economic source for the household and I feel happy to stay with my family," she said.

Pan Yongmei, secretary of Daweng village's Party committee, said that in the past the village had no major sources of income and one third of the population had left to find work in urban areas. "Now they are willing to come back home to plant orange trees and open farm stays. Those oranges are not only fortune fruits, but also bring hope and encouragement for the future," Pan said.

Several years ago, a total of 880 people in a similar village lived by cutting firewood, mowing and lighting fires to cook. In 2007, Pan introduced 1,200 mandarin orange seeds to 10 households. They later earned 180,000 yuan in three years. In 2012, the total plantation area of mandarin oranges reached 23.31 hectares, with an average annual production of 7,500 kilograms per hectare and total revenue of 1.05 million yuan. Today, the total plantation area has expanded to 396 hectares.

In addition to oranges, the Huangguoshu scenic zone is also promoting the planting of peaches, cherries and plums, and is launching sustainable projects such as rocky desertification control, afforestation and road landscaping.

The zone has 3,330 hectares of forests, with 53 percent forest coverage, and 666 hectares of rocky desertification control greenery.

Muxiahe village in Longgong town has also benefited from poverty alleviation based on all-region tourism.

"The biggest problem concerning the development of our village is transport and infrastructure," said Lei Xingfa, secretary of Muxiahe village's Party committee, adding that the region has picturesque views and sufficient agricultural resources despite its rugged mountain roads and lack of modern facilities.

Recently, the village renovated 8,600-square-meters of landscape and initiated projects to build roads, improve sewage disposal and install village street lamps.

Last year, the region upgraded its local agricultural industries, including agricultural sightseeing. It founded a professional cooperative agency of farmers to participate in beautifying the village, boosting agriculture and the local economy.

wangjinhui@chinadaily.com.cn

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