Better environment heralds better life for islanders

(Xinhua )| Updated : 2020-07-03

Print Print

JINAN -- Lin Shaopeng's homestay business in Changdao, Shandong Province, has gained popularity among tourists in the past few years.

His cottage located on one of the area's 151 islands received several groups of tourists since the onset of the peak season this summer. The unique ancient aura and breathtaking scenic view of the sea make the spot particularly popular.

The four-bedroom house costs around 2,000 yuan (about $283) per night, which is more expensive than conventional hotels and other homestays in the area.

"Even so, I've seen a constant stream of visitors," Lin said, attributing the thriving business to the improved environment of the island and beauty of the surrounding sea.

Lin grew up in the island area. He said that though the environment of Changdao was not good previously, concerted efforts of the government and the locals have helped restore its ecosystem.

In the 1980s, locals started to breed scallops and took to sea cucumber farming, leading to a notable increase in their incomes. As a result, the area became much wealthier than most of the other counties in China in the 1990s.

"It was so easy to make money and get rich at that time," recalled Lin, who also made a good fortune by taking to aquaculture at that time.

However, environmental problems soon surfaced. The coastline and offshore areas of Changdao were filled with piles of aquacultural facilities and wastes of aquatic animals, and chemical disinfectants caused a severe contamination of the seawater. Thus, the aquaculture industry shrank and saw massive losses.

Realizing the significance of the environment, the area set a goal to restore the ecosystem in 2017.

By the end of 2019, a total of 840 hectares of offshore cultivation area had been cleared up.

The area's natural resources department said that local fishermen have been encouraged to join cooperatives, which can help them promote marine farming scientifically. Meanwhile, the area has been pushing forward deep-sea breeding, which will generate profits for locals in the long run.

The removal of the offshore aquacultural facilities has allowed tourists to enjoy the coastal view, and the improved ecosystem attracted more and more visitors to the island area.

Lin's homestay is now deemed as a role model among the island dwellers. The real cash cow is the good environment of the island, he said.