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Tourism changes a village's fortunes

By XING YI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-08-07 07:43

Just 35 years ago, Yingdong village on Shanghai's Chongming Island was nothing more than a small settlement located on reclaimed land.

Back in those days, villagers relied mainly on rearing fish and crabs to make a living.

In 1986, the village had a population of only 32 people. Its annual per capita income was a measly 1,100 yuan ($158).

Today, the village's landscape and fortunes have completely changed. In 2019, its population stood at 238. The annual per capita income had also burgeoned to 30,000 yuan.

"In the past, the village was very poor," says Shi Kaoquan, a resident of Yingdong village."Now, every family has a two-story house and almost every household owns a car."

The main reason behind this transformation is the village committee's relentless efforts to leverage agriculture as a growth driver.

According to Wei Shengzhou, the head of Yingdong village, the village committee has always been responsible for making plans and buying seeds for agriculture and selling produce. On the other hand, all the villagers needed to do was to perfect their farming practices.

The village also started to diversify its income stream in 2000 by promoting agri-tourism. In 2009, a resort containing 32 villas was built to attract more tourists.

In 2018, the village started cooperating with Chongming Tourism Investment and Development Co, allowing the company to manage the resort, which has since undergone a transformation of its own.

Today, the resort features a restaurant situated beside an artificial lake and a culture experience center where visitors can learn to make handicrafts such as cloth bags and traditional Chongming rice cake.

Other notable attractions include a new greenhouse comprising dragon fruit, grapes and peaches that tourists can pick. Visitors can also go fishing at a large pond.

Shi, who currently works at the resort as an electrician, earns 3,000 yuan every month and about 8,000 yuan in dividends every year.

The resort has also been a boon for employment, providing 100 people from Yingdong and its neighboring villages with jobs.

Lu Zhengdong, the village's deputy Party chief, says: "Chongming is on its way to becoming a world-class eco-friendly island. We believe more people will come to our eco-tours in the future."


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