NANJING, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Seven years after the Chinese government
started to promote tourism and consumption with the introduction of "golden
week" holidays, peasant farmers have begun to benefit.
More and more city people are taking advantage of the weeklong holidays
around Chinese Lunar New Year, Labor Day on May 1 and China's National Day on
Oct. 1 to head out to the countryside to enjoy fresh air and organic food.
For peasant farmers equipped to offer hospitality, the influx of tourists
means huge profits.
"I started to host tourists in 2004. Last year, I made 20,000 yuan (2,500
U.S. dollars) in net profits," said Zhou Fachun, a peasant farmer in Zhoujia'ao
Village, eight kilometers from the city center of Nanjing, in east China's
"It feels wonderful to be running a business from home," he said.
Sixteen out of the 78 families in Zhou's small village take in tourists
during the holiday periods. The three most successful family businesses are
making 200,000 to 300,000 yuan (25,000 to 37,500 U.S. dollars) a year.
"Chinese people started celebrating 'golden week' holidays in 1999 and more
than 100 million holiday train trips are made each year," said Prof. Zhou
Yingheng, president of Nanjing Agricultural University’s School of Business
For years, only city dwellers enjoyed the holidays. The 900 million
peasants who make up the vast majority of the Chinese population were left out,
The huge gap between Chinese cities and the countryside means that peasant
farmers are at least 15 years behind their city peers in terms of consumption.
Even in the richer eastern provinces, the gap is around 10 years, according to
But the booming countryside tours have helped narrow the gap, according to
a local tourism official in the suburbs of Nanjing.
"The influx of tourists to the countryside has not just helped peasant
farmers increase income, but also increased the added value of local
agricultural production," said Xie Wencai, an official in suburban Yuhua
The State Tourism Administration says Chinese tourists are making at least
300 million trips to the countryside each year, generating more than 40 billion
yuan (5 billion U.S. dollars) of tourism income.
In the meantime, some better-off farmers have joined their city peers in
sightseeing or shopping tours during "golden week" holidays.
"I'm busy most of the year, but I manage to travel with my family almost
every year," said Chen Xiangzhan, a farmer-turned-businessman from Yongjia
county in Wenzhou, a booming manufacturing center in rich Zhejiang Province.
For the National Day holiday, Chen and his family went to Ningxia Hui
Autonomous Region, a Muslim community in the northwest that is far less
developed than his hometown.
But even in remote Ningxia, a sightseeing tour to Beijing or even Hong Kong
is no longer "pie in the sky" for every farmer.
"We've sent nearly 1,000 peasant farmers on package tours outside Ningxia.
Many of them traveled to Beijing and some to Hong Kong and Macao," said Zhang
Yonghua, vice managing director of Ningxia Overseas Tourism Co.
Chinese farmers made 640 million sightseeing tours in 2004, the most recent
period for which State Tourism Administration data is available.
That year, farmers' tourism spending totaled 135 billion yuan (about 17
billion U.S. dollars), it said. Enditem