The planting of herbal medicine and tourism with a strong ethnic flavor have brought new hopes of wealth for villagers in southwest China’s poverty-stricken ethnic regions. The harsh natural environment has made it difficult to grow crops.
In Yaoshan Village of Guizhou Province, local residents, all of Yao ethnic group, have found jobs in the blooming tourism sector.
By staging the traditional vocal and dancing performances of Yao, villagers attract tourists who go there to find "something different".
He Zhengguang, head of Yaoshan village, said, "Tourism has given a boost to sales of handicrafts and agricultural products in the county. We are not blessed with the natural condition suitable for growing crops, but we are blessed with the ethnic culture that others do not have."
Fu Yingchun, head of Guizhou Provincial Tourism Bureau, said, "As of 2008, tourists visiting villages in Guizhou brought a total revenue US$1.5 billion dollars since the 1980s."
He said the "ethnic flavor" is the ethnic regions’ core attraction and is irreplaceable.
In Dafang County, Jiang Yunming, 55, along with his fellow villagers, are benefiting from growing herbal medicine. Jiang grows honeysuckle, an important ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. "It took me more than 10 years to finally find the road to wealth," Jiang said.