Cultural tourism effort in Dongtou bears fruit

Updated: Apr 6, 2023 By ZHU BAOXIA and XING WEN in Huichang, Jiangxi China Daily Print
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Villagers perform the traditional She ethnic group folk art of baizilong and bamboo dancing in Huichang county, Jiangxi province. XING WEN/CHINA DAILY

Adding to the lure are over 5,000 square meters of ancient residential buildings, some of which have been transformed into exhibition halls that showcase the rich history, culture and traditions of the She ethnic group.

After taking a look around the township, another change that impressed her was the ubiquity of She ethnic cultural elements.

"When I lived in the township before, I was curious about the She culture, but I only saw older people wearing She-style headwear. Generally, they didn't pay much attention to showcasing their traditional culture in daily life," she recalls.

The transformation can be credited to the township's efforts to vitalize the local rural area by utilizing cultural heritage as a tourist attraction.

In November, the town was designated as a signature tourist destination by the China Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Association.

Next, the town aims to achieve coordinated development and mutual flow of visitors with other scenic spots in the county, such as Hanxianyan, by integrating their respective operations, says Liu Xiufeng, Party secretary of Dongtou township.

Local people have been actively participating in the township's tourism development by organizing study tours centered on ethnic cultures, running She-style homestays, serving local delicacies, performing folk arts and selling handicraft items, according to Liu.

Lan Tianxiang is a pioneer of tourism entrepreneurship in the township. He manages a fruit-picking garden spanning 13.33 hectares and a 0.25-hectare homestay.

The garden boasts a variety of fruits such as waxberries, mulberries, peaches, plums, pears, oranges and grapefruits, each with its own distinct harvest season. That means the fruits can be harvested throughout the year, ensuring that the garden remains a popular destination for tourists, whatever the month.

The man started running the homestay in 2016.

"I designed and decorated it on my own, choosing an antique aesthetic," he says, adding that the furniture is crafted from unusual and distinctive pieces of wood that he discovered on the nearby mountains.

He has been going through a very busy phase since December.

The occupancy rate of the homestay averages around 60 percent. And during the Spring Festival holidays it reached 100 percent. In January, the homestay's turnover exceeded 700,000 yuan ($101,646), he says.

Dongtou township received more than 86,000 tourists during this Spring Festival holiday.

"I'm proud to see how my hometown has transformed through the process of rural vitalization, and how the awareness of my fellow villagers in protecting and showcasing our cultural treasures has been raised over the years," he says.

Both of his sons have learned how to perform the art of baizilong at the local middle school. He hopes that such folk arts of the She people will continue to be passed down the generations.


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