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Ethnic village in South China finds prosperity in tourism

XINHUA | Updated: 2023-01-19 08:35

NANNING — On an early winter morning, as roosters crow to greet the dawn, and a wisp of smoke rises above the farmhouse roof, villagers in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region have started a busy day ahead of Spring Festival.

"We've kept a running list of deals and ingredients for the big dinner on Lunar New Year's Eve," says 32-year-old Pan Zaoxiang in Longji township.

Dressed in her holiday best, the traditional clothing of the Yao ethnic group, Pan was born and raised in Dazhai village, located in the core area of the famous tourist attraction of Longji Rice Terraces.

The hamlet has been named among the Best Tourism Villages of 2022 by the United Nations World Tourism Organization for its breathtaking agricultural view, but Pan says that they used to struggle to make ends meet.

Deep in mountains, Dazhai village was very hard to get to, with only one narrow mud path zigzagging down the hills. Daily necessities and products for farm work could only be delivered by cart.

"When I was a child, I longed for the outside world, but it usually took a day and a night to reach the nearest town on foot," says Pan.

Facing the harsh living conditions and the deteriorating ecological environment, the Dazhai villagers turned to the mountains and the massive amount of land reclaimed by previous generations.

By cooperating with tourism companies from Guilin, a popular city among travelers to the region, villagers became stakeholders in developing the land into a unique terraced landscape.

"My family plants nearly 10,000 mu (667 hectares) of rice on the terraced fields, and that means a year-end bonus of over 10,000 yuan ($1,475)," Pan says, adding that they all maintain the traditional ethnic architecture.

Villagers like Pan also sniffed out the growing business opportunities in catering and accommodation as more visitors poured in.

During this year's Spring Festival, around 230 homestays across the village are expected to be fully booked, says Yu Qiongtong, Party chief of Dazhai village.

Celebrations and various kinds of activities will also be held to present the rich history of the Yao ethnic group. Tourists from home and abroad have great interest not only in the beautiful landscape, but also the culture, says Pan.

"I have prepared an abundance of local cuisine and specialties, such as sausages, chilies and sticky rice in bamboo, to welcome tourists during Spring Festival," Pan says.

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