During his visit to the southern island province of Hainan in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping dropped in on a small village called Bohou and declared that only ordinary people can say whether a moderately prosperous society has been achieved or not.
A B&B hotel in Bohou village. (Photo/Sanya Daily)
Xi’s remarks made the officials and residents in the village in Jiyang district of Sanya city confident that they could shake off poverty.
Bohou village has changed a lot since Xi’s visit. “The annual per capita income of villagers reached 24,520 yuan (about $3,502) in 2019,” said Su Shaohong, Party chief of the village, adding that the village is becoming more confident in its ability to pursue a better-off life, as it boasts competitive industries and villagers have freed their minds.
Due to its saline-alkali land, the villagers of Bohou have never even been able to grow enough food to feed themselves, let alone live prosperous lives. In the 1990s, many residents still lived in thatched cottages. When construction of a national resort was approved in Yalong Bay to the east of the village in 1992, villagers began to work in hotels at the resort, but were still unable to earn a decent living.
Entering the 21st century, Sanya has vigorously promoted the development of the flower industry, encouraging enterprises to put their roots down in the city. “The government’s support has brought opportunities to our village in its poverty alleviation efforts,” Su said.
In 2009, one company began to plant roses on about 66.7 hectares of land obtained through the transfer of land-use rights in Bohou, earning the area the nickname “Rose Valley,” and helping villagers get rid of poverty.
“Now I can earn an annual rental revenue of several thousand yuan per mu (667 square meters) of land from the company,” said villager Su Guojin, adding that he also earns a salary and has savings.
Like other villagers, Su now lives in a two-story house. He also runs a barbecue restaurant that does brisk business.
In 2017, Bohou found new development opportunities as Sanya decided to beautify the village by improving its ecological environment and infrastructure. As a result, Bohou has become one of the most beautiful and cleanest villages in Hainan. In May, it was rated one of the most popular rural destinations for tourists in the province.
In addition, B&B hotels have been springing up in the village. In 2016, Tan Zhongxian, a villager who has received a higher education and worked in Guangzhou in south China’s Guangdong province for 10 years, decided to run a B&B hotel using all his savings of 2.8 million yuan and by applying for a loan of 200,000 yuan.
It was the village’s geographical advantages and bright prospects for the development of the tourism sector that gave Tan confidence in his business.
“The sound operation of B&B hotels will certainly attract tourists to our village, and tourism revenues are expected to be an important guarantee for the continued rise in villagers’ incomes,” he said.
In May 2017, he opened his B&B hotel. To his surprise, the business performed much better than expected. “In the first year, the rooms were almost fully booked, especially during the Spring Festival holiday,” Tan noted, adding that he has already made back his investment in the business.
Tan’s success has encouraged more villagers to get into in the business and also attracted outside investors. So far, a total of 44 such hotels have been set up or have gone into construction there, offering more than 1,300 rooms to tourists.