Starting from downtown Hefei of East China’s Anhui Province, heading north along the 206 National Highway, a horse sculpture in a field of grass and flowers comes into view. It’s Maying Village, a "celebrity rural tourism village" in Changfeng county due to its development mode and the arrival of many new-generation farmers.
The newly opened Maying shop next to the tourist reception center in the village is full of agricultural specialties and handicrafts of various towns and villages in Changfeng County, such as goose from Wushan, meatballs from Zhuangmu, strawberries from Changfeng, piglets from Zhuxiang…
"Visitors come to Maying Village to enjoy food, experience rural life, see art exhibits, and cure homesickness," said Wang Yiqiang, an entrepreneur born in 1980s who is the chief of the farmers’ cooperative on rural tourism in the village. This Spring Festival, he stayed in the village. "This year the government called for celebrating Chinese New Year in place. Many people chose to travel to the countryside so we must prepare to receive tourists," he said.
Maying Village, formerly a “hollow village”, is located on the ridgeline of two rivers—Yangtze and Huaihe. It was only known recently due to the Maying Project. Over the past few years, many young people have resided in the village to start their own businesses, and Wang was one of them. Wang said he came to Maying due to encouragement from Zhong Yu.
A few years ago, Zhong, who was selected by the Public Administration Bureau of Hefei, went to Maying village as the first secretary. In order to lift the village out of poverty, Zhong initiated the "Maying Project". The campaign is committed to building bridges between urban areas and villages, and making the countryside better and the villagers wealthier through the implementation of assistance in education, agriculture and village. Wang was moved by Zhong’s determination. He not only moved his company’s headquarters from the Hefei high-tech zone to Maying, but also served as the chief of the Maying rural tourism cooperative.
On our reporters’ arrival, Wang was packing strawberries in the village’s e-commerce area. “During the Chinese New Year, agricultural products are very popular, especially strawberries. Many people place orders from the cooperative’s e-commerce platform and many agricultural products are often short in supply,” Wang said.
In addition to packing, Wang is also busy with a major event recently, that is, sharing dividends with elderly villagers. "Cooperatives belong to all villagers. Every year we will distribute the extra earnings to the villagers over 60 years old, so that all villagers can share the revenues."
Wang did some calculating. Maying Village has received more than 200,000 tourists. Rural tourism has promoted the development of vegetable and fruit planting, poultry, goat herding and aquaculture industries. There are 28 new business entities in the village, 6 planting and breeding farms larger than 6.67 acres, 4 rural tourism experience centers, and 4 agri-tainment resorts. More and more villagers and entrepreneurs are returning to their hometowns to start businesses.
Tourism has driven the village’s 40 households out of poverty.
A few years ago, the permanent residents of Maying Village were no more than 500. Now, the village is gradually becoming livelier, with residents exceeding 1,000. In addition to the locals, more entrepreneurs and volunteers have also come.
In today's Maying Village, facilities such as clinics, tourist reception center, and public toilets for tourists have been gradually built. Gesang flowers and wild cornflowers are planted around the villagers' houses. The new picture of rural revitalization is being outlined and painted bit by bit.
(Translated by Huo Jiamian, edited by Huang Jingjing)