Homestay industry breathes new life into Jinan village
(chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2020-06-09Print Print
A villager enjoys idyllic rural life at a homestay in Niyuquan west village, Licheng district, Jinan, Shandong province after moving from the city center. [Photo by Wang Feng/jinannews.com]
Zhang Fuhai (assumed name), 83, lived in downtown Jinan for many years. He was finally able to live the idyllic rural life he imagined when he moved to a homestay in Niyuquan west village in Jinan.
There are 24 villagers like him, ranging in age from over 50 to 94, who came from downtown to rent homestays and experience the refreshing rural lifestyle.
Niyuquan west village, located in Liubu subdistrict of Licheng district, Jinan, is named for the Niyu Spring, one of the 72 famous springs in the city.
It took four years for the village to develop from a poor one into the largest homestay village in Jinan, according to 63-year-old Qiao Youhe, who has been served as the secretary of the Party branch of the village for 32 years.
Qiao said the village was included in the provincial poverty list in 1994. As far as he could remember, the village had always been shabby.
"You couldn't image the village at that time. The streets were full of firewood and rubbish. Most of the villagers earned their living by farming."
More than 60 percent of the village's population work outside the home. Those left behind are old people, children and women.
Qiao often ponders how to help the villagers escape poverty. Close to mountains, rivers and spring water, the village enjoys great potential in developing tourism and homestay industries.
A view of a homestay in Niyuquan west village, Licheng district, Jinan, Shandong province [Photo by Wang Feng/jinannews.com]
In 2016, Qiao established Youjianchuiyan Ecological Company to operate homestays making use of unused houses in the village. Many villagers have moved downtown for work, meaning some residential houses remain empty. Qiao renovated the houses into homestays and offered annual rent payments to villagers.
A team of nearly 20 people in the village, responsible for the renovation of the yards and follow-up maintenance, was organized by Qiao, which also brought additional income to some villagers.
According to Qiao, the village currently has 24 long-term stay households and two short-term stay households, with a total of 128 beds, making it the largest homestay village in Jinan.
"Short-term stay options are in short supply, and cost 1,680 yuan ($237.39) per night. They should be booked a week in advance."
Qiao said that he planned to expand business and develop exquisite courtyards. Currently, a total of 135 households in the village have yet to be renovated.
The village also planted fruit trees covering an area of 70 mu (4.67 hectares), including hawthorns, apricots and peaches, offering sightseeing and fruit-picking to facilitate the development of homestays.