Lavender garden helps tourism to bloom
Updated: 2015-01-28 07:38
By Yang Ziman and Zhu Chengpei in Dalian, Liaoning(China Daily)
Success of rural attractions means farmers are getting rich, town head says
Editor's Note: Dalian, a coastal city in Liaoning province in Northeast China, has more to offer than agriculture. China Daily looks at some of the new ways that farmers have found to achieve prosperity.
Tourism is growing fast in the rural parts of Dalian, Liao-ning province, where attractions such as a popular lavender garden are transforming the living standards of residents.
The garden, called Ziyun Huaxi, is located in the town of Xiangying and covers an area of 73,000 square meters. It cost 80 million yuan ($13 million) to build, and has attracted 400,000 visitors a year since it opened in 2012.
Its success is an example of the way rural tourism has become a pillar industry in a town whose economy used to rely on sales of agricultural products.
The garden was laid out on former arable land that is leased to the company that operates it. Many farmers have decided against taking jobs as migrant workers in large cities far away from their hometown, and instead earn 100 yuan per hour working at the garden.
The idea of building the attraction was inspired by Yili in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the country's largest lavender-growing area.
Dalian is at about the same longitude as Yili and has plenty of sunshine, and these factors together make it a favorable environment for growing lavender.
The plant was introduced into China from Europe in the 1960s, and since then nine major growing areas have been established.
The flower signifies love, and as a result around 600 couples have their wedding photos taken at Ziyun Huaxi each year.
"Sixty percent of the lavender from the garden is used to make products," said Lyu Dongsheng, deputy manager of Ziyun Huaxi.
"The products and the ticket sales each account for half of the garden's revenue."
Jiang Shanshan, the town's deputy head, said, "Xiangying is turning from an ordinary, agriculture-oriented rural area into a floral town.
"Another major floral species we cultivate here is the moth orchid," Jiang added. "Thanks to tourism, the income of the farmers has been greatly boosted."
Ren Shuyan, 44, used to work as a physician in the downtown area of Dalian, but has now turned her two-story home into a guesthouse for the growing number of tourists.
Ren and her husband, a former rescue worker, both quit their jobs to devote themselves to the business.
"The income that my husband and I used to make throughout the year can now be made in four or five months," Ren said.
"We serve delicious homemade meals with homegrown vegetables. Our place is clean, and we charge only 100 yuan per night. We can easily make 100,000 yuan per year."
Tourist attractions in other rural parts of the port city also attract crowds.
Lu Lin, the vice-mayor, said many residents are enjoying increased income from agricultural tourism.
"In 2013, about 10.8 million visitors were attracted to Dalian for rural tourism, generating 5.5 billion yuan in revenue," he said.
"Dalian has initiated more than 100 sightseeing agriculture projects, each with investment of more than 100 million yuan. In addition, 40 towns and 100 villages have developed tourism destinations with their own characteristics."
Chen Yuli, the head of Xianrendong, Dalian's drinking water source, said the town has prioritized environmental protection over industrial development. It is now taking advantage of its good environment to boost tourism and help local farmers to increase their incomes. It attracted 700,000 visitors last year.
"By introducing tourism projects, we are helping farmers to get rich," Chen said.
Zhang Xiaomin contributed to this story.
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Visitors marvel at the fields of lavender at the Ziyun Huaxi garden, one of the many rural tourism attractions that have been developed at Dalian over the past few years. Provided to China Daily
(China Daily 01/28/2015 page7)