Across China: Winter tourism spurs villagers’ entrepreneurship

CHANGCHUN, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) — Lu Caishu sold his 110 cows to support his small tourism business in Erhe, a village in northeastern China’s Jilin Province, known for thick snow during the winter.

Lu’s decision was considered risky two years ago, especially among villagers who mostly had a stable income from raising cattle, but Lu was convinced that the tourism industry would offer a more lucrative and sustainable way to make money.

In 2018, the money Lu invested in his business began to pay off. During the winter, his business received over 5,000 customers, bringing in nearly 300,000 yuan (about 44,500 U.S. dollars)

“It only takes me three to four months to take care of my business, but I had to work for a whole year when I used to make a living on raising cattle,” Lu said.

Lu not only runs one of the most profitable guesthouses in the village but also set up a travel company to further enhance the reputation of the businesses, allowing household investors to receive dividends by the end of the year.

More ambitious villagers began to start their own guesthouses and cash in on booming tourism as profits have snowballed over the years. There are now 50 guesthouses and restaurants in the village owned by 126 households.

Erhe attracts more than 8,000 tourists on average each winter. The number is expected to reach 100,000 this year, according to the local tourism sector.

“I’ve always wanted to start my own business, and the winter tourism helps me realize the dream,” said Sun Linlin, who invested over 2 million yuan in her guesthouse.

Sun’s guesthouse, now the biggest in Erhe, receives nearly 400 customers each day during the peak season.

“There is huge potential in winter tourism as more townspeople seek the rural lifestyle to reduce the pressure they face in big cities,” she said.

Erhe’s total tourism revenue reached 10 million yuan last winter. More than 80 percent of the villagers now work in the industry, and over 60 percent run their own businesses. Restaurants, guesthouses, souvenir shops, theatres and snow museums have sprung up in the village.

The booming tourism also attracts more villagers who previously moved to bigger cities for better opportunities to come home and get a slice of the cake.

“I had never imagined snow would become Erhe’s most valuable asset,” said Liu Hongcai, owner of a brewery that sells grain alcohol to local restaurants and tourists.

“I have my own business and can stay with my family. It is the best time of my life,” he said.

Source: Xinhua


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