Tapping into its green potential
This picturesque area in Zhejiang province is using its most famous attraction — Qiandao Lake — to bring in the visitors
Waking up to birds chirping and gentle breeze is one of the pleasures of living near Zhejiang’s tourism hot spot Qiandao Lake.
There, more than 1,000 green islands form a labyrinth on the lake and is a sight for sore eyes.
Everything is green, yellow and red when we visit the lake in Chun’an county, west of Hangzhou, in mid-December.
Although the lake has become a household name, Chun’an might be unfamiliar to visitors from afar. That’s why the county plans to use the lake to raise its profile.
A clean environment, rich folk traditions and farmland-based leisure are what Chun’an offers, says Jiang Huaping, the deputy head of the county.
“We want to develop rural tourism, so visitors come and see more than just the lake,” says Jiang
A river town, a historic street, caravan facilities and a traditional Chinese medicine plantation zone will be developed to spice up the tourist experience.
Sport events will also be introduced, since Chun’an features diverse landforms, which are perfect for sport events such as cycling and hiking, says Jiang.
So far, the tourism potential of the area has lured a few young locals who worked in big cities to return home.
Fang Chaoxi, in his 20s, is one of the younger generation who quit his white-collar job in Hangzhou and returned to set up an inn in the mountainous Pinghu village, which is just five minutes from the Qiandao Lake zone, in 2013.
“I decided that it was better for me to be my own boss,” says Fang.
His instincts have been proved right, and business is brisk.
Now his business brings in roughly 600,000 yuan ($86,335) a year. His guests come mostly from Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang.
“Most of my guests stay for around four days and just lie back and enjoy themselves,” says Fang.
Now, the village has roughly 40 inns developed by locals which can accommodate more than 700 visitors at a time.
Local inn owners mostly promote their business online and the local offerings are very popular with the visitors. “They enjoy the local cuisine, the fishing and fruit picking,” says Fang.
The village’s white loquats are a specialty and the annual output could be worth as much as 13.6 million yuan, according to local authorities.
Other young people have also returned since Fang came back. “I was the first who returned, but now there are enough of us to play mahjong,” says Fang.
Meanwhile, driving through the county, we find well-paved roads lined with colorful plants as the local government has spent 1.6 bil- lion yuan to develop green belts across Chun’an. Those belts extend to all villages in the region, with tea and fruit parks all over.
All those belts run 350 kilometers through the county making it easier for cycling, hiking and public transportation. “They are lined with green plants,” says Jiang.
Improved infrastructure has also helped boost the development of the surrounding villages that used to be cut off earlier.
Feng Bo, who gave up his chemical business in Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan district, and moved to Taoyuanling jia village to start a fruit plantation three years ago, says: “It used to take a whole day for us to travel to downtown Chun’an earlier. But now the distance is shortened to just 40-minute drive.”
Feng’s plantation is home to 50 fruits, including peach and kiwi.
“Visitors can pick seasonal fruits throughout the year,” he says.
More than 10,000 visitors have been to his facility so far this year and the income from fruit picking has crossed one million yuan.
Feng also offers dining and barbecue facilities, and wooden villas are available for those who want to spend the night. Feng is now planning to build an open-air exercise facility.
His business has also created job opportunities for locals.
One of the things that make him happy is his good relations with the locals and the changes he has been able to spark in local environment.
“Everything was dirty and chaotic when I first came here, but now every household cleans up their own mess and keep things in order,” he says.
A sewage system was also set up to treat wastewater in the area thanks to support from the government, he adds.
Taoyuanling jia is just one example of the transformation taking place in Chun’an.
Jiang says that so far, the local government has spent approximately 2 billion yuan to develop a sewage system and roads in the area, and modern toilets have been built across the county.
“So, all sewage is treated to ensure clean water and soil,” he says.
Animal wastes is also being taken care of.
Locals have benefited from improving tourism and have thus began to protect the greenery.
“Preserving water resources matters for Zhejiang, and a tourism-led development model is the ideal way out,” he adds.
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Tourists visit a caravan camping and container hotel facility in Chun’an county.
a historical street, a caravan resort and a traditional Chinese medicine experience are among what Zhejiang’s Chun’an county can offer, in addition to the tourism hot spot Qiandao Lake.
A water town,