​Rural tourism brings prosperity to Lujia village

By Zhang Liying
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, June 23, 2021
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A sightseeing train travels through Lujia village, Anji county, eastern China's Zhejiang province, May 14, 2021. [Photo by Chong Yatu/China Pictorial]

"Choo Choo—" a sightseeing train consisting of four passenger coaches travelled amidst the natural beauty of Lujia village in Anji county, eastern China's Zhejiang province. The 4.5-kilometer-long sightseeing route connects 18 family farms, each offering distinctive products and services.

"Thousands of tourists take this train every day. During this year's May Day holiday, the number of tourists visiting our village skyrocketed so much that the ticket booking system temporarily failed," said Qiu Liqin, director of the Lujia Village Committee.

China's first demonstration zone for family farming, Lujia village stands as an outstanding example of rural vitalization and green development. It's hard to imagine that the now prosperous village used to be poor.

"In the past, our village lacked pillar industries, tourist attractions, and cultural resources," Qiu said. "All we had was 667 hectares of low hills and gentle slopes."

In 2013, China's annual "No. 1 central document" stated that the government would create policies to speed up rural land transfers and offer more subsidies for family farms and farming cooperatives.

Based on the policies and Lujia's actual situation, the village leadership decided to build distinctive family farms and pursue the integrated development of farm-based recreation and rural tourism.

They invited professional designers from Shanghai and Guangzhou to plan the layout of the family farms, which grow bamboo, vegetables, fruit, flowers and Chinese medicinal plants.

Various measures were also taken to improve the environment and facilities in the village to reach the standard of a 4A-level scenic spot, China's standardized quality rating system for tourist destinations.

"The fundamental purpose of our efforts is for our villagers to live a happier and richer life," Qiu said. Statistics from the local authorities show that the integration of agriculture and tourism has created more than 800 jobs, helping increase the income of local villagers by over 6 million yuan (about $928,200) each year.

In order to deliver more benefits to the people, the village established three companies in partnership with private capital and adopted a special operation model, known as "company-village-farm."

The companies are responsible for the daily operations and marketing of the village; the village committee works on administration and coordination work, integrating resources of the government and the public; and the farms focus on infrastructure construction and industrial upgrading.

The model transformed the village's resources into assets and enabled villagers to earn money from not just their salaries, but also from rent income and stock equity.

Within the past decade, the collective assets of Lujia village increased from less than 300,000 yuan to nearly 290 million yuan, and the villagers' per capita net income grew from 14,700 yuan to 47,100 yuan.

Encouraged by their village's development, many entrepreneurial individuals or migrant workers returned to start businesses or find employment in their hometown.

A photo taken on May 14, 2021 shows a floral display at Song Yuexiang's family farm in Lujia village, Anji county, eastern China's Zhejiang province. [Photo by Zhang Liying/China.org.cn]

Song Yuexiang, who once run a construction material business, began growing plants in Lujia village in 2016. After five years of effort, her family farm has now expanded to more than 5,000 square meters and enjoys 500,000 yuan of online and offline sales each year. 

Lin Xiaorong, 56, used to work as a truck driver in Anji county. The success of Lujia village's rural tourism attracted him back and he is now a sightseeing bus driver. In Lin's eyes, his village has achieved "tremendous" changes over the past decade.

"Our village boasts a pleasant environment and rapid economic development. Villagers' income is much higher than before. So, I came back," he said.

According to Qiu, the village is planning to integrate more digital technologies into its tourism and family farming industries. "Through 'smart tourism,' we will make new arrangements and divert tourists to different family farms," she said. "This can not only help avoid congestion and improve the experience of tourists, but also increase villagers' income and promote fair distribution."

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