Taihang Mountains tourism improves local livelihoods
By Zhao Yunfei, Zhang Youze

For decades, Sun Xiaohai wished her family could be financially secure. Working at a souvenir shop at Baoquan Tourist Resort finally realized her dream.

"I dreamed about having our own house and car, living with no debts. Now we have them all and we also held a wedding ceremony for my son," said Sun, describing her understanding of a moderately prosperous life.

It's a family effort: Sun's husband Chen Fujun also works at the resort. Chen is in charge of facility maintenance at scenic spots.

"I didn't think we could live as we do now and that I could lead my time just like a boss. Work is highly mechanized now, instead of relying heavily on manual labor," Chen said.

Sun Xiaohai runs a souvenir shop. Zhang Youze/CGTN

Sun Xiaohai runs a souvenir shop. Zhang Youze/CGTN

After five years making efforts to develop the local tourism industry, the resort helped people from the area eradicate poverty and modernize the mountainous village.

Baoquan is located far west of Huixian, central China's Henan Province, where its villagers used to live by the cliffs of the Taihang Mountains. However, the construction of the tourism resort drastically brought up employment, offering job opportunities for 90 percent of locals nearby.

Besides couples like Sun and Chen, friends in the village also formed groups for business at the resort.

"I came here with 10 more local villagers. They were farmers or used to work far from home. It was too hard to save money. But now our income has more than doubled, our team also expands to 50 more people during peak seasons," said Miao Hongjun, an employee taking charge of catering business at the resort.

A snack street at Baoquan Tourist Resort. Meng Mingwei/CGTN

A snack street at Baoquan Tourist Resort. Meng Mingwei/CGTN

Baoquan accommodated 2 million visitors in 2019, providing jobs for almost 2,500 households, and contributing 16 percent to the total volume of Huixian's tourism industry.

Talking about the strategy of developing the city's tourism industry, Vice Mayor Qin Dahai suggested that "it's an on-going process of balancing the relationships among local government, residents, tourist spots and natural resources."

"We expect more residents to participate for giving out more benefits to the public," Qin said.

Many villagers at Baoquan said they are not after grandiose financial goals, but wanted to feel comfortable and secure based on the sustainable development of the place they call home.

(Meng Mingwei, Xing Xuanmin and Song Xiangying also contributed to the story.)