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Rise of rural trips seen as a way to lift locals out of poverty

Zoom  Zoom Issue Date:2017-09-04   Browse:1396
Fenghuang county in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture, Hunan province, will continuously promote rural tourism and develop relevant products to lift more people out of poverty.
"We will strongly support the development of rural tourism and launch premium tourist products in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period (as a way to solve the poverty problem)," said Yan Changwen, Party chief of Fenghuang county.
"Impoverished villages and people will be encouraged to participate in the development of tourism products and the provision of services," Yan said. "It will help to lift them out of poverty."
Yan said about 20,000 people would be lifted out of poverty through rural tourism by the end of 2020.
Rural tourism has become an effective tool for Fenghuang in solving the poverty problem over the past few years.
Villagers are taking different approaches to profit from the expanding rural tourism sector. For instance, people can rent their houses or land, get jobs in the scenic areas, operate restaurants or stores, or participate in the production of tourist-related commodities.
Laojiazhai village, under the jurisdiction of Xionglong village of Shanjiang town, has 80 families. Among them 33 are registered low-income families, with annual income per person of less than 3,200 yuan ($486.38).
The village has become one of many such rural tourism destinations in Fenghuang which can be accessed by boat.
Long Yun'en, head of Laojiazhai village, said villagers were reaping the benefits of the development of rural tourism.
Eighteen low-income families in Laojiazhai, which are engaging in rural tourism-related work, such as sanitary maintenance and ferry services, have seen significant increases in income over the past few years.
Long revealed that the total annual income of the 18 families has now reached about 300,000 yuan.
Laojiazhai village, which is also a registered poverty village, will be removed from list at the end of 2017, Long added.
"Rural tourism has helped Laojiazhai out of poverty. We are on the way to moderate prosperity."
People who have become wealthy from the expansion of Fenghuang's tourism industry have been encouraged to provide jobs for the impoverished.
Ma Jinmei, a tourism site and restaurant operator in Shanjiang town, was earlier this year rewarded by the local government with 20,000 yuan, in recognition of her long-term efforts in supporting the poor.
Of Ma's 46 employees, poor people now account for half her total staff .
"Some of them can't speak Mandarin, but they work hard," Ma said.
The local government is also taking measures to integrate tourism resources, aiming to provide more benefi ts to local residents.
The current Xionglong village, was formed by the combining of the old Xionglong and Laojiazhai villages.
Tang Dean, an official from Xionglong village, said that the integration will help both villages better use their tourism resources.
The local government also invested heavily in infrastructure construction, including upgrading signage and roads. It is estimated that more than 29 million yuan has been invested in supporting the services and facilities of poor villages and upgrading various village projects over the past few years.
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