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Preserve the past to live the future

Updated: 2015-03-12 10:46:27

( Chinaculture.org )

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Development and protection

When it comes to a traditional village, the concepts of development and protection always seem contradictory.

"In my definition, without development, there is no future. Without protection, there is no sustainable future," said Wu Xiangyang, who runs a village tourism project in East China's Jiangxi province. "Business development must be handled with care, and protection needs to be persistent."

The policeman-turned-entrepreneur gave up his civil servant job and returned to his hometown to explore the possibility of rural tourism. Before he was engaged, Huangling was a half deserted village on the middle of a mountain which suffered poor transportation and perennial water shortages.

As a native, Wu recognized the value of the village's ancient Hui-style architecture, and its terraced-field-and-mountain-surrounded location. Through an equity swap deal with Wu's company, native households moved into new homes in flat areas not far from the original village.

Villagers are also invited to return and work in the scenic spot in various occupations. Some work as hospitality staff, some run folk art shops and some are employed to perform traditional activities and interact with visitors. Wu also plans to invite some households to move back to give the village more vitality.

"I have to make sure the villagers benefit from the project as much as my company does, otherwise the project will not be sustainable," Wu said.

As much as city dwellers love the idea of escaping the crowds and a busy life for a quiet ancient village, the reality is often disappointing.

However, Professor Luo believes that negative feedback should not discourage innovative entrepreneurs like Wu.

"Customers are critical, but their feedback, even if it is negative, will help to prompt the upgrade of the business model and products," he said. "A failed project is better than a quietly vanished village."

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