Aid-Xizang program turns traditional village into a popular tourism town
Updated: May 21, 2024 10:55 China Daily

Thanks to the aid-Xizang program, villagers in the autonomous region's Tashigang village now operate popular family guesthouses, which has brought them prosperity.

Phuntsok, one of the earliest guesthouse operators in the village of Lunang township, Nyingchi city, started his business in the 1990s.

With support from Guangdong province as an aid-Xizang project, an investment of 1.01 billion yuan ($142 million) has been pouring into the construction of Lunang International Tourism Town since 2011.

"There weren't many tourists in the village back in the 1990s, but since the area was turned into an international tourism town, both the tourism infrastructure and service quality have improved dramatically, and tourism has become a main income source for the villagers over the past few years," the 76-year-old said.

When the aid-Xizang project of Guangdong province conducted training on tourism services in 1998, villagers were invited to experience living in hotels, and they were taught hotel management and tourism services.

Before 2017, the tourists Phuntsok received were mainly hikers and cyclists. After 2017, more tourists arrived, and some even started reserving two to three months in advance for the peak season.

Since then, more and more villagers have been operating guesthouses.

"As the number of tourists has increased dramatically in recent years, villagers have added various types of cultural activities and events such as horseback riding, archery and art performances," he said.

Currently, the tourist town has 12 hotels and 73 guesthouses, according to official statistics. In 2023, the town received 860,000 tourists, generating tourism revenue of nearly 90 million yuan.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the aid-Xizang program, and the Lunang International Tourist Town is a model project of Guangdong's efforts to help the autonomous region.

Lunang combines modernity with traditional Tibetan customs. Behind the blend of nature and culture lie the efforts of generations of cadres from Guangdong who have devoted themselves to aiding Xizang.

"Tourism is regarded as a major industry in Guangdong, which is also a pillar industry of the city of Nyingchi in Xizang. Therefore, under the joint discussion between Guangdong and Xizang, the concept of building Lunang into an international tourism town was made," Wang Chen, deputy director of the Lunang Management Committee and a member of the 10th group of Guangdong cadres to aid Nyingchi, was quoted as saying by Xizang Satellite TV.

Guangdong has dispatched 10 groups of more than 800 cadres to Xizang, and more than 900 projects including industry, people's livelihoods, education, healthcare, roads and transportation have been launched, with investment totaling 12.6 billion yuan.

"Over the past 30 years, batches of aid-Xizang cadres from Guangdong have brought advanced work methods and management concepts to Nyingchi. Farmers and herdsmen have transformed their mindsets, learned new skills and become industrial workers thanks to the guidance of aid-Xizang cadres," said Wu Gengdan, leader of the working team.

Since 1995, the GDP of Nyingchi city has maintained an average annual growth of over 12.1 percent, reaching 23.5 billion yuan in 2023. The per capita disposable income of rural residents increased from 1,155 yuan in 1995 to 25,451 yuan last year, ranking first among the seven cities and prefectures in the region, data showed.

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