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Cultural tourism brings renowned dancing village a step nearer wealth

By Hou Liqiang and Yang Jun | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-24 07:33

Traditional buildings in Fanpai village are made of wood and retain ancient construction methods. [Photo by Hou Liqiang/China Daily]


Liu decided to accept the offer and found a company that teaches residents how to raise their village's profile and change their own destinies. He asked just 1 yuan for the task, because he was fascinated by the village and wanted to devote himself to its development.

In many ancient villages, planning and construction are undertaken solely for the benefit of tourists, Liu said. Instead, he took the needs of the villagers into consideration and planned the cultural center, construction of which began in 2014 and ended in May.

The center includes one room where the lusheng, a traditional Miao reed-pipe, is displayed and another where the history of the village is the centerpiece. The center also provides a gathering place for traditional events.

"The older generation is confident about their culture, but that's not the case with younger people. They are at a loss, and some are abandoning their traditional culture. At this key time for cultural inheritance, I planned the cultural center in the hope that the younger generation will see their culture when they return and gain confidence from it," Liu said.

The center is a bridge between the villagers and outsiders, and a guesthouse, which opened last month, provides accommodations for tourists, and academics and students researching rural development.

Che Maomao, the foundation's representative in the village, said it has invited Xunmei, a tourism development company that has been running guesthouses in a Miao village nearby, to help run 10 rooms in the cultural center and two recently renovated houses.

Xiao Yifei, Xunmei's general manager, said 30 percent of the revenue from the guesthouses will be given to the cooperative and the company will cover all the operating costs.

Irrespective of whether Xunmei makes money from the project, it guarantees the villagers a payment of at least 100,000 yuan a year.

"We are unlikely to make money from this project, but we hope we can set an example and prompt the villagers to start their own guesthouses," he said, adding that locals will be employed at the center's guesthouse as training to open their own.

Xiao's father left his hometown in Hunan province and spent more than 20 years teaching in a nearby county that is a center for Miao culture.

That commitment bred a passionate attachment to Miao culture in his son, which is why Xiao is determined to contribute to Fanpai's development.

"We hope we can help the villagers to gain skills and make money through their own efforts," he said.

Xunmei has now signed a three-year contract with the cooperative, which should be enough time for the residents to learn the skills needed to run their own guesthouses.

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