Ethnic village thrives on tourism
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 the lunar new year, the Spring Festival.
"We've kept a running list of deals and ingredients for the big dinner on New Year's Eve," said 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 World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for its breathtaking agricultural view, but Pan said they used to struggle to make ends meet.
Embosomed 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 carts.
"When I was a child, I longed for the outside world, but that usually took a day and a night to reach the nearest downtown on foot," said Pan.
Facing the harsh living conditions and the deteriorating ecological environment, the Dazhai villagers turned to the mountains and the massive land reclaimed by the elder generations.
By cooperating with tourism companies from the tourist city Guilin, villagers became stakeholders in developing the land into a unique terraced landscape.
"My family plants nearly 10,000 mu (around 666 hectares) of rice on the terraced fields, and that means a year-end bonus of over 10,000 yuan (about 1,478 U.S. dollars)," Pan said, 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, said Yu Qiongtong, Party chief of Dazhai.
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 interests not only in the beautiful landscape but the culture, said Pan.
"I have prepared an abundance of local cuisines and specialties such as sausages, chilies, and sticky rice in bamboo to welcome tourists during the upcoming new year," Pan said.