A Mountain of Opportunity

51-year-old Tibetan Sina Dingzhu's lives in Jiangpo village, Foshan township, Deqin county, Diqing Tibetan autonomous prefecture, in Yunnan province. This small village sits across the river from Meili Snow Mountain with its breathtaking scenery. In the past, it was in a world of its own. Daily life there, however, is mired in poverty.


Newly built homestays. HU CHAO/Xinhua

In recent years, in order to help the villagers to increase their incomes, various groups have developed livestock breeding programs for yaks and goats, as well as cultivating olive groves and actively developing their rural tourism. However, limited transportation and accommodation keeps tourist numbers low.


Sina Dingzhu practices archery by the lake. HU CHAO/Xinhua

In 2017, some businessmen from Foshan, Guangdong came to visit the village. The following year, they began a cooperation with the relevant departments of Deqin county and established the Meili Xueda Lake Development Co., Ltd to foster the establishment of hotels and small bed and breakfast services where tourists can choose the household in which they prefer to stay. Coordinated by the company, they get to experience the home life and authentic cuisine of the region. The revenues are split evenly between the company and the villagers. The company also gives each household 10,000 yuan ($1,413) as an annual fixed income.

Sina Dingzhu was keenly aware of the business opportunity, and took the lead in building a bed and breakfast in the village. He originally made his meager living entirely on farming but, with the earnings from the bed and breakfast, last year, his family's income was close to 100,000 yuan.


Villagers dance in Tibetan costumes in Jiangpo village, Foshan township, Deqin county, Diqing Tibetan autonomous prefecture, in Yunnan province. HU CHAO/Xinhua

Led by Sina Dingzhu, the villagers took the initiative and built Tibetanstyle homestays in batches.

At present, the last batch of homestays of the main project has been completed and is expected to open for business soon. According to Sina Dingzhu, by relying on the breeding industry and the development of rural tourism, the per capita net income of Jiangpo village increased from 8,000 yuan in 2016 to 26,600 yuan in 2019.

Amid these dramatic changes in the lives of the villagers, the towering Meili Snow Mountain stands watching, unflinching and ready pose for all the tourist photographs set to come.


Sina Dingzhu makes xianzi, a three-stringed plucked instrument. HU CHAO/Xinhua