Inner Mongolia village taps rural cultural industry to paint a brighter future

By Zhang Jie | chinadaily.com.cn
Updated: June 26, 2024
A child paints on a pebble at "Tomato Community" in Ping'an village of Horqin Right Wing Front Banner, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, June 25, 2024. [Photo by Zhang Jie/chinadaily.com.cn]

A village in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region is exploring new ideas to promote rural cultural industry.

Painting on pebbles, making flower-patterned steamed buns, crafting clay sculptures, engaging in farm work, and physical training are among the unique rural cultural tourism experiences offered by a project named "Tomato Community" at Ping'an village of Horqin Right Wing Front Banner in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Currently, the "Tomato Community" has become a popular choice for visitors seeking rural life experience.

Established in 2022, the community integrated leisure activities, rural culture, agricultural experiences, and rural Chinese-style bed and breakfast known as "minsu". This integration has not only diversified the local tourism sector but also brought significant economic benefits to the villagers.

The community's success is largely credited to Qi Xiaojing, a pioneer in wealth creation. After completing her service as a village official with a college degree in 2013, Qi embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in Ping'an village. Her efforts and innovative thinking have transformed Ping'an village, which was once behind in infrastructure and industrial development.

Qi Xiaojing speaks to tourists at "Tomato Community" in Ping'an village of Horqin Right Wing Front Banner, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, June 25, 2024. [Photo by Zhang Jie/chinadaily.com.cn]

The community has revitalized local minsu, expanded online sales of agricultural products, and established a housekeeper service team, thereby creating more job opportunities and increasing villagers' incomes.

In 2022, four women followed Qi's lead in developing rural minsu, with each household seeing an income increase of more than 20,000 yuan ($2,753) that year.

"Seeing the profitability of running a rural minsu, 18 more households renovated their homes to join us in developing rural tourism last year," said Qi Xiaojing. "Now, we are very motivated, and everyone is very confident about the future of rural tourism."

Moreover, the community has provided employment for 91 villagers, according to Qi.

A view of "Tomato Community" in Ping'an village of Horqin Right Wing Front Banner, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, June 25, 2024. [Photo by Zhang Jie/chinadaily.com.cn]

The community's success is also attributed to its innovative "farming culture + agricultural experience + online and offline product sales" model. By organizing activities such as rural hikes and traditional tea ceremonies, it has created an integrated industrial model encompassing rural minsu, educational travel, training, and sales, enriching visitors' cultural experiences.

In 2022, Hinggan League in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region initiated a plan to cultivate more industry-leading talents like Qi Xiaojing. The implementation of this plan has laid a solid foundation for the revitalization of rural industries and talent in recent years. Currently, the plan has trained 1,288 industry-leading talents and helped 38,000 farming and herding households, with an average annual increase of 4,900 yuan per household, as well as the cumulative operating income reaching 358 million yuan.

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