Tackling poverty through tourism

Updated: 2017-11-10

  Changfang village of Xinyu in Jiangxi province has made great contributions to poverty alleviation by developing its tourism industry.

  To date, the village has offered more than 500 jobs to local residents.

  "Most of the young people now choose to work in local hotels and vegetable production bases rather than working in the cities," said Chang Shuilian, a 65-year-old spinner working at the local textiles mill. He earns 1,000 yuan ($150.80) a month.

  "As for my family, only my son has settled down in Hunan province. All the other family members are working and living in this village," he said.

  Many local villagers have become involved in the hospitality industry.

  Chang Yougen, who used to work at an ore refinery, opened a home-based restaurant in 2012.

  "Since tourism in our village is developing more and more, we have much more income and our life is getting better," said Chang.

  In the past decade, Changfang has established more than 30 scenic spots, as well as hundreds of stores covering catering, accommodation, local specialties and tourist goods.

  The village has accomplished three big projects related to parking, catering and accommodation facilities. Together, they can receive 10,000 tourists simultaneously.

  With all these efforts, the village has won innumerable renowned titles, such as national 4A level tourist attraction, national agricultural tourism demonstration site and China's village tourism model, to name but a few.

  In 2016, the village received around 1.37 million visitors. Overall revenue from tourism came to more than 51 million yuan, with net income per capita hitting 23,600 yuan.

  However, it was another story 10 years ago. At that time, Changfang was a very poor village.

  The villagers made a living from crop farming and mining. The annual income per capita was less than 800 yuan. Thus many young villagers migrated to cities to earn a living.

  In 2006, Changfang village started its industrial transformation and founded an agricultural development company, in order to take full advantage of the local natural resources and develop robust tourism. Changfang village carried out land transfer to let an agricultural development company manage and rent the land uniformly.

  The company pays 800 yuan to villagers annually for each 666.67 square meters of land and the villagers are entitled to become shareholders.

  "These positive moves have not only revitalized 53.33 hectares of land, but have also found a solution for the surplus labor," said Chang Meisheng, Party secretary of Changfang.

  "Tourism is an effective method for targeted poverty alleviation. It has nothing to do with offering money or materials, but refers to developing local tourism resources, forming special tourism products and establishing a tourism industrial chain," according to an analyst who specializes in poverty alleviation. "At present, all the tourist facilities have been completed. It's high time for Changfang village to start a new undertaking mainly focused on improving tourism management," said Chang Meisheng.

  With the opening of Changfang old people's home and Changfang business street this year, an advanced management team will be introduced.

  More than 300 new jobs will be created and villagers' annual per capita income can increase by 2,000 yuan, Chang Meisheng added.

  He also said he was convinced that the total output value of Changfang village could hit 2 billion yuan by 2020.

  The collective annual income of the villagers could total 30 million yuan, with annual income per capita reaching 30,000 yuan.

  Changfang is not the only example. There are many other places in Jiangxi with sound and ample tourism resources, meaning there is huge development potential.

  Almost 2,000 poor villages are capable of developing rural tourism, accounting for 60 percent of the total amount of Jiangxi's poor villages, according to local officials.

  About 2 million people could be engaged in tourism and hospitality services, accounting for 70 percent of Jiangxi's poverty-stricken population.

  According to official statistics, Jiangxi lifted 150,000 farmers out of poverty and supported 636,000 farmers to take up occupations locally last year. Officials forecast that Jiangxi will lift 500,000 people out of poverty during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period.

  Source: China Daily

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