Group of retired officials impressed by financial turnaround of many rural settlements during tour of Qinshui
Tian Zhiqian, a retired official, said he was surprised at the great changes made in rural areas of Qinshui county, where he worked several years ago.
Tian and his former colleagues, who also used to work in Qinshui, recently paid a visit to several villages in the county. Nanyang was one of the villages they visited.
"When I worked in Qinshui, Nanyang was among the most underdeveloped villages in the county," Tian said.
According to Tian, farming and animal husbandry were the only sources of revenue for people in Nanyang, which was on the province's list of impoverished villages. Output from the two industries was low due to limited land resources and weak ecology.
Tian said his old impression of the village was completely changed when he saw the broad, paved roads, tidy streets and courtyards.
"Despite all the renovations, I was happy to see that the old-style streets and residences that are typical of an ancient village of Shanxi are still intact," he said.
He was told that it was the emerging rural tourism industry that made the changes happen.
Nanyang is close to the county's major tourist attractions such as Lishan Scenic Area, Honggu National Forest Park and a base for the Chinese military forces during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).
Making use of the location, villagers began to operate tourism-related businesses, such as bed-and-breakfast accommodations and selling local produce to visitors.
Wang Jianzheng, a local farmer, owns a household B&B business. His special offering to tourists is his unique hotpot dish.
Wang said annual revenue from the business has been more than 30,000 yuan ($4,245) in recent years, which helped lift his family out of poverty quickly.
To improve local infrastructure, the Poverty Alleviation Office of Shanxi invested more than 500,000 yuan in 2017 to build public toilets and water supply facilities in the village.
Another village that gained support from provincial authorities for tourism-based poverty reduction is Qiaoshang in Huguan county.