Boao Forum for Asia boosts rural tourism in the region

 Monday, March 27, 2023 


Everything in Paigang hamlet bears witness to the traditional fishery culture, from old brick buildings, historic ferry locations to shabby fishing boats, Xinhua news agency reports. Paigang, located in Tanmen township, Hainan Province, south China, has a history dating back up to 1,000 years.

In the town of Boao, some 10 kilometres away, palm fronds flutter against the backdrop of the azure ocean, luxury hotels dot the skyline, and automobiles zip along tree-lined boulevards. The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) will convene its annual meeting from March 28 to 31 in this location.

Several communities in and around Boao have begun to develop rural tourism in recent years, due to the BFA, with homestays, bars, and coffeehouses cropping up to accommodate the rising demand. Paigang is one of the villages that has profited from this growth.

“My homestay is running at full capacity these days,” said homestay owner Wu Shuxian to Xinhua. “Actually, our business has been quite good since the Spring Festival holiday.”

Business is “explosive” around the time of the BFA annual conference, Wu added.

“We not only offer accommodation, but also local food,” he said. “My dad helps cook, and he is an amazing chef. He can cook both spicy and non-spicy food.”

Local officials in Qionghai, which supervises Boao and Paigang, began assisting in the development of rural tourism in the village based on its fishing culture and history in 2017, integrating activities such as fishing, cuisine tasting, and village tours for tourists.

The brick buildings, an age-old well, and a variety of antiquities are carefully kept, and they coexist with modern aspects such as a café and a karaoke bar.

Several prospective business persons have been drawn to the thriving tourism industry. Xue Cuiyuan, from Beijing, has rented a house near Paigang and is planning to build a research studio specialising on fragrant plants with a business partner.

“Here it is close to the sea, the port and Boao, and it has a profound fishing culture and history,” Xue said. “I think it’s perfect.”

Liu Li, 25, from east China’s Jiangxi Province, is running a homestay in Paigang.

“The BFA has held its conferences near here for many years,” she said. “The infrastructure is great, and I see huge potential.”

A similar scenario exists in the hamlet of Liuke, which is administered by the Mocun village council in Boao.

Liuke has a long history. When inhabitants needed to go beyond their villages or beyond the province in the past, they had to move here. The settlement gradually became a tourist stopover, thus the name “Liuke.”

In response to the country’s rural revitalization initiative, officials have made efforts in recent years to lure tourists to the town through sightseeing and entertainment activities.

Villagers and tourists, for example, may enjoy the grandeur of the Wanquan River along a 1.2-kilometer-long “landscape belt.” Village officials have established initiatives such as riverbank camping and kayaking to attract young people.

Quan Kebin, an entrepreneur, has invested in the local tourism industry.

“We have a rich culture here, which is definitely attractive to visitors,” Quan said. “The tourism development here can generate job vacancies for locals, especially for young people, who traditionally go to big cities looking for jobs.”

Wu Shuxian, the homestay owner, is confident about the future of rural tourism near Boao.

“I hope that more people will come to appreciate the culture and the scenery of our village,” Wu said.

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