New settlement emerges on cycling route on 'Roof of the World'

Updated: Dec 12, 2019 Xinhua Print
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After a day of cycling on a road on the sparsely-populated "Roof of the World", nothing is more rewarding than a hot meal and a good sleep at a homestay for tourists.

Trekking and cycling on the Xinjiang-Tibet Road linking Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Tibet autonomous region in Southwest China have become trendy in recent years, as visitors can enjoy breathtaking snow-capped mountain sceneries along the trek.

Nulabit, a settlement, has newly emerged on the roadside, 105 kilometers away from the nearest county seat of Yecheng, Xinjiang, to provide convenience for visitors to the plateau.

Zhang Bin, deputy county chief of Yecheng, said the county government has pinpointed the location to cash in on the business opportunity of the trendy tourism to help impoverished herdsmen settle down and become self-employed.

As a poverty-relief project supported by the Shanghai municipal government, Nulabit has been developed since 2017.

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, grasslands and forests, the new village, just a one-day cycling trip away from the county seat of Yecheng, is rich in tourist resources.

Shanghai investors have helped build infrastructure and housing with a well-equipped tourist reception area.

"My lodge received over 100 tourists this year, which brought in over 10,000 yuan ($1,420) of income," said Aimtih Syeti, the first herdsman to open a catering business in the village.

He said in the past, they lived a nomadic life with their hordes of livestock. Now, they live in a lodge and use their spare rooms to receive tourists.

So far, 98 households have settled down in the village, with a population of 300.

The catering business, cultural activities and supermarkets have brought jobs to the villagers and people from other places in Xinjiang, said Ge Qiang, Party chief of the village.

"Goods are transported from the nearby county. The transportation cost is very high, but we insist on selling them at a fair price," said Xia Heng, a lodge runner.

The road has a total length of 1,455 km. Along the way, there are several snowy mountains and lakes.

According to tourism statistics from Yecheng county, the number of tourists on the route exceeded 150,000 in 2018 and is expected to exceed 390,000 in 2019.

This year, booming tourism created a total of 3,680 jobs in the county.

Zhang Zhonghe, Party chief of the Yecheng County Culture, Sports, Radio and Television and Tourism Bureau, said that the catering business in Nulabit village has just started, and needed continuous policy support.

The county government encourages the development of tourism and characteristic agricultural products by exempting house rental fees for the next three years, he said.

"In the next step, we want to introduce high-quality tourism operation resources not only to provide tourists with supplies and catering but also rescue, camping and car rental services," said Zhang Bin.

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