Tap­ping into its green po­ten­tial

This pic­turesque area in Zhe­jiang prov­ince is us­ing its most fa­mous at­trac­tion — Qian­dao Lake — to bring in the vis­i­tors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TRAVEL - By YANG FEIYUE

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.

Re­turn­ing 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.

Job op­por­tu­ni­ties

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.

Con­tact the writer at yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHO­TOS BY YANG FEI YUE / CHINA DAILY

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,

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