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Profit bubbles from hot springs in Nagchu

China Daily | Updated: 2021-12-02 10:31

LHASA-For many residents in Nagchu, a city that lies at an average altitude of over 4,500 meters in the Tibet autonomous region, visiting a hot spring is a popular pastime.

Karma Dorje, a Nagchu native who paints thangka in the regional capital of Lhasa, goes every three days upon returning home. "Bathing in the hot water improves circulation. The pimples on my face have gone," the 26-year-old said.

With a temperature of around 60 C, the geothermal spring in Tonglung village, which is located in Nagchu's Nyanrong county, is one of the highest in the world.

Tonglung has established a cooperative to operate the spring, which receives some 10,000 tourists from the city and nearby counties every year, according to village head, Chophe. The cooperative paid out dividends of 12,000 yuan ($1,850) per household to 75 families last year.

A total of 35 villagers, including some who were formerly impoverished, work at the cooperative.

"With my job now on my doorstep, I can take care of my ailing mother at home," said Chimed Wangmo, 20, who used to work in Nagchu. For her job as a cashier and cleaner at the cooperative, she earns 2,500 yuan a month.

By making use of natural and cultural resources, many rural areas in Tibet have been able to develop tourism, bringing tourists and additional income to farmers and herders, boosting rural vitalization.

In Tashi Chodan, a community in the city of Lhokha known for its performances of Tibetan opera, a 30-strong troupe performs every day for tour groups from across the country.

Tibetan opera combines speaking, singing, acting, dancing and literature and dates back over 600 years. It is sometimes described as a "living fossil" of Tibetan culture, and was included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. "In peak season, we have six to seven performances a day, and monthly incomes can be more than 2,000 yuan for performances alone," said 38-year-old farmer Purbu Kelsang.

To accommodate tour groups, 58 households offer homestays.

Dawa, a 63-year-old villager, no longer has to work on construction sites in the cities. With his eight-bed homestay, he earns over 30,000 yuan a year. He serves butter tea free of charge and plays the flute for his guests, which is warmly received. "Visitors like my home a lot. Some even called after returning home, promising they would come every year," he said, adding that his guests come from areas as far afield as the provinces of Anhui, Hubei and Hunan.

Last year, the community's per capita net income reached 24,000 yuan, up 13 percent compared with the previous year.

Wang Huadong, executive vice-mayor of Lhokha, said the city government plans to introduce a third-party company to help the community develop tourism more professionally.

"It will be responsible for leasing nearby farmland from villagers and turning barley plots into galsang (pink cosmos) flower fields to attract more tourists," he said.

In Tibet, rural tourism has directly or indirectly created 86,000 jobs for farmers and herdsmen, resulting in a 4,300 yuan rise in per capita incomes.

Optimistic about the prospects of tourism, Tonglung is expanding its hot spring cooperative by building three more pools. The village plans for the resort to cover tourism, recreation and accommodations to generate more income.


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