Homestay owners in Shalingxi Village, Laishui County, north China's Hebei Province, are eagerly preparing for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival. An influx of visitors are expected to flock to the picturesque bucolic place during the three-day holiday which runs from June 22 to 24.
Villager Chen Zhiqiang, 36, runs a homestay in the village. Chen worked in Beijing for more than a decade before returning to his hometown and actively participated in the development of rural tourism.
"Our village is situated near a scenic spot. We've seen an increasing number of visitors in recent years," said Chen, adding he renovated an old house passed down by his grandfather. The cozy rooms and idyllic scenery have a glamorous allure for many tourists.
Nestled in Taihang Mountains, Shalingxi Village is home to more than 200 households. In the past, the village endured poor transportation conditions. Many young people left their hometown and chose to seek employment opportunities in the distant cities.
"There was no tap water, and villagers had to carry water on their shoulders. They also needed to use flashlights at night, as there was a lack of electricity," recalled Liu Guangtian, a village official.
Over the past few years, the local government has continued to invest heavily in enhancing the village's infrastructure.
"We built roads, dug wells and improved the living environment of the village. In addition, we have lucid waters, lush mountains and fresh air, and we are near the national capital of Beijing. These advantages serve as a magnet, attracting tourists from Beijing and Tianjin. Therefore, numerous villagers have engaged in rural tourism," Liu added.
In Laishui County, more than 500 old or abandoned rural houses have been transformed into high-quality homestays and nearly 100 villages have jumped on the bandwagon of rural tourism, according to Li Weimin, director of the county's culture, radio, TV and tourism bureau.
In the neighboring Laiyuan County, over 160 unused houses have also been renovated and reused as homestays, which also drove more than 11,000 rural residents to get involved in rural tourism.
Ding Lei, an official of Baoding City, which has jurisdiction over Laishui and Laiyuan counties, said that, a total of eight counties in the western mountainous areas of Baoding have vigorously developed rural tourism since 2022.
Last year, revenue generated by rural tourism in those counties reached 4.68 billion yuan (about 655.55 million U.S. dollars), providing employment opportunities for more than 300,000 people in the rural tourism industry.