Tourism revives millennia-old Qiang village

Updated: Jan 16, 2024 China Daily Print
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Ethnic Qiang people dance to greet the new year according to their traditional calendar in Taoping Qiang village, Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture, Sichuan province.[Photo by He Haiyang/For China Daily]

CHENGDU — Nestled in a gorge near the upper reaches of the Minjiang River in Southwest China's Sichuan province, Taoping Qiang village has existed for over two millennia.

Originally constructed for military defense, the village's watchtower has seen the flames of war extinguished over the ages and is now a tourist attraction. Surviving the devastating 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the tower still stands tall and now bears witness to the area's transformation.

The village was reconstructed in the aftermath, and a new village in the same architectural style was built nearby, with many residents choosing to move there for a better quality of life. Today, visitors are drawn to the picturesque village, bringing prosperity to the local tourism industry.

By Dec 25, the Taoping village area had welcomed 189,000 tourists in 2023, driving sales of local farm products to 30.8 million yuan ($4.35 million) and generating over 95.2 million yuan in tourism revenue.

The skyrocketing sector has brought new opportunities and tangible benefits to locals, such as Maixi, who is a member of the Qiang ethnic group. Her journey has mirrored the remarkable development of her hometown.

Maixi, one of eight children, worked as a shepherd when she was a girl. Now 60, she has achieved prosperity by converting her ancestral home into a homestay business.

And she has expanded her hospitality venture by opening a four-story homestay in the new village, drawing in a steady stream of repeat customers, who enjoy her signature dish of a hearty soup with cornmeal and pickled vegetables.

Maixi is committed to quality and insists on offering only organic ingredients to her customers, even if it means narrowing her profit margins. She harvests many of the ingredients herself, and homegrown plums are provided to all guests as a complimentary after-dinner snack.

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