To take you to a small village, in western Sichuan's Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Due to its inaccessibility and a lack of arable land, recent years have seen a refocusing to make tourism a pillar industry, changing people’s lives in the process.
Gayong village is located about 30 kilometers from the peaks of Yading Nature Reserve, one of the best-preserved natural scenic spots in China. It has become a base for tourists to rest at night before exploring the site. Catering to increased demand, most households rent out their spare properties as guesthouses.
Some of these building have been around for over a century, and some were only constructed in the recent years. Their traditional Tibetan style holds a big attraction for both tourists and investors.
Ayang Luorong rented his house to a businessman from Beijing nine years ago. He now earns 80 thousand yuan or nearly 12,000 US dollars per year, a satisfactory standard of living.
"My family income depends on the rental of this old house. We live in another one close by. We are also granted a government subsidy each year," said Ayang Luorong.
The local government supports residents in efforts to boost tourism and sales of local products. So far, this approach is reaping rewards. Per capita disposal income has doubled from five years ago.
"The biggest change is the way of thinking among local residents. Their ideas have become quite advanced and they pay more attention to getting education," said Xiao Dong, deputy chief of Publicity Department, Daocheng County.
Local people want to continue developing a tourism-led industry. They're confident this can be done with better infrastructure, training programs, and more investment.