Small tourism train: Connecting villages and heading to innovation
en.hangzhou.com.cn   2024-07-01 10:18   Source: ​chinadaily.com.cn

"Behind this small sightseeing train underlines the critical achievement of green rural revival and common prosperity," Huang Xujie, a local guest house owner, said regarding the latest tourism project in Hengkantou Village, Ningbo City of Zhejiang province.

Nestled in the wooded Siming mountains which covers an area of more than 6,000 hectares, Hengkantou Village finds the natural terrain a constraint in terms of economic development. The old revolutionary base was eager to get out of poverty and strive for common prosperity.

Huang said that the whole village is making efforts to vigorously promote revolution-based tourism. But in recent years, local workers found that they lacked the potential for continuous development. "We realized that it's a must for these 8 neighboring villages to work together and share resources, rather than seeking for self-development."

But why choose the sightseeing train project? "These villages all feature idyllic scenery and pastoral life. To link scattered picturesque attractions from different areas, we came up with the idea of starting a sightseeing train line in 2019," Huang said.

The two trains, painted in blue and green, able to seat 27 people each, lead a route of 4 kilometers from Hengkantou Village, and pass by the flower field, Xiaozhuangyuan amusement park, Wangxiang Village, Daxi farm etc. Huang said that during holidays people from big cities who are tired of urban life are most likely to visit with their friends or family members. For them, paying twenty yuan ($2.67) for a ticket provides a rural trip across villages and a richer sightseeing experience.

One of the hottest attractions is Daxi farm which features a rose garden and cherry orchard. Here hand-picked fruit and flowers have become a hit with tourists. There are more than 10 picking bases alongside the train route, and more than 20 family-raised farms are starting to develop local cuisine and leisure services. This train line has successfully transformed ecological benefits to economic benefits by attracting a rising number of tourists. "Even the revenue from selling train tickets has made great contributions to supporting the local economy," said Huang.

One key stop alongside the route is a modern plant factory of Hengkantou village. With hydroponic cultivation technology and a modular management system, this factory ensures optimal nutrient balance for over 70 kinds of vegetables, achieving around 20 harvests within a year. "Without concern for sunlight, temperature and seasonal changes, the growing conditions of vegetables cultivated here are controlled by computers," said Lu Huihui, one of the managers of the plant factory, "we are now working on technology for automatic picking and disinfecting."

This factory meets the demand of customers both within and outside of Zhejiang province. "We also sell products to nearby areas such as Shanghai City and Jiangsu province," said Zhang Hui, director of the planting base, "we are also a stable supplier to major domestic grocery chains like Hema." In 2023, vegetables grown at this base were even served at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou.

The plant factory has also created employment opportunities for residents. "Apart from six managers, the rest of our staff are all local villagers, including some veterans," said Lu, "During the off season, we recruit temporary workers from the village." According to Ningbo Agriculture and Rural Afairs Bureau official website, the annual per capita disposable income in the Hengkantou Village reached 47,108 yuan ($6,482) in 2022, a 70.9 percent increase from 2017.

On this train line, the plant factory is just one part of Hengkantou Village's plan for green rural revival and common prosperity. Hengkantou Village, along with eight neighboring villages, including Wangxiang and Ganxuan, has established the Hengkantou Hongfeng common prosperity alliance.

Together, they have launched a train route for cross-village tourism and regional rural area construction, transforming nearly 405 hectares of farmland into over 10 distinctive amusement parks, 20 farm family resorts, and more than 16 diverse agritainment spots. Zhang also mentioned that this train serves as a bridge for regional common prosperity within these 8 villages. The local community is transforming into a large-scale regional agricultural cluster, promoting the development of surrounding villages.

"Today, tourists can take the sightseeing train to gain richer traveling experience within a short timeframe. They can choose to pick up fresh roses from the Daxi Farm in Ganxuan Village and taste the sweet corn in Wangxiang Village," Huang said, "the line offers more options for tourists, and also more opportunities for the economic development of the village."

As she spoke, her phone abruptly rang - a tour group was calling to book a dinner reservation for next Friday. This was just one among the many booking inquiries flooding her phone throughout the day.

Author:   Editor: Ye Lijiao