Surrounded by mountains and overlooking lakes and streams, Zhang Shunzhi's four-story guesthouse welcomes visitors from all over for blossom season.
After years spent driving across the country as a long-haul trucker, Zhang finds that there is no better place than home. In 2021, he turned his house in Nanping village, Huangshan city, Anhui province, into a guesthouse.
"For many urbanites, Nanping is like a wonderland far from the bustle of city life," Zhang said.
"As more visitors come to the village, I have to hire people to help me with business during peak season," the 61-year-old said, adding that in 2021, his guesthouse earned him about 100,000 yuan ($14,582).
This past Spring Festival has been Zhang's busiest period, and his seven-room guesthouse was fully booked thanks to the relaxation of COVID-19 policies.
Official statistics show that in January, Huangshan city's 66 scenic spots received 2.12 million visits, a 50.3 percent increase on the January figure from 2019, the year before the pandemic.
Steeped in history, Nanping village has rows of intact Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasty houses in a maze of 72 lanes. It has eight well-preserved ancestral halls and is often described as a "hidden gem" by travel influencers. After serving as the backdrop for the 1990 film Ju Dou directed by Zhang Yimou and as a set for the Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, the village has become popular with tourists.
Boasting typical Anhui architecture and carvings, Nanping is one of the 1,336 ancient villages included in the sixth batch inscribed on the national protection list, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.
This is good news for Zhang Fenbin, village head, who has been busy coordinating with related departments to preserve Nanping's rustic charm and character, while making sure that everyone feels at home.
"To meet the increase in tourism, we will expand the parking lot to accommodate about 200 vehicles, up from the current 100," Zhang Fenbin said.
The rise in tourists will also generate more waste and so Zhang Fenbin has also planned for more trash bins to be installed and for the village's waste management to be enhanced.
For the four guesthouses in the village, a 2-million-yuan project is planned to improve their access to safe electricity, according to Zhang Fenbin.
In addition to Nanping, 70 villages in Anhui are on the list. Wu Zhaohua, head of Laotian village in Chizhou city, is happy that the village is listed and said that this will be a good opportunity for Laotian to become known by more people.
At the foot of the Jiuhua Mountain scenic spot, Laotian is restoring its stone pavements.
"Although it is a lesser-known village, our unique scenery is an ideal alternative vacation for tourists to explore," Wu said.
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