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Grape farmers in Xinjiang earning more from tourism
2022-07-22 source:Chinadaily
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A Uygur family harvests ripe grapes in Turpan, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo/People's Daily Online]

Grape farmers in Turpan, a city in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, are making extra money by getting involved in agritourism as their farms have also become an increasingly popular destination for tourists.

During an inspection tour of Turpan on July 14, President Xi Jinping visited Grape Valley to learn about the city's efforts to develop distinct grape-oriented industries and promote the integration of culture and tourism.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, inspected Xinjiang from July 12 to 15.

After visiting the valley, Xi said that Turpan's beauty and fertility, along with its wealth of fruits, are a gift from nature. It is necessary to properly handle the relationship between socioeconomic development and environmental protection, promote the integrated development of culture and tourism, and create industries that enrich the people.

Liu Yongjian, who leads the Tourist Management Committee of Grape Valley, said about one-third of growers' annual income now comes from tourism.

"Grape Valley, a strip of fertile land that is perfect for cultivating grapes, is among the most popular tourist destinations in Xinjiang. Tourism has greatly boosted local incomes. Many residents have opened restaurants and homestay facilities to accommodate tourists," Liu said.

Yumetjan Memet, manager of the Bafeng Retreat in the valley, said the homestay is fully booked during the weekends and it welcomes guests from across China.

"Guests often cannot hide their excitement when they arrive at the valley, because aside from the stunning grape farms, they can also enjoy the culture and cuisine of the Uygur ethnic group."

Turpan has a historically long tradition of growing grapes, which is one of the city's pillar industries. The earliest record of grape farming in the area dates back 2,000 years. Turpan is also China's key area for grape cultivation, producing about a fifth of the country's grapes.

The grape harvest is currently underway in the area. As a result, the air in the valley is infused with the fragrance of ripening grapes, which is a unique and memorable experience, Yumetjan said. "Many guests decide to extend their stay because they really enjoy their time here."

Yumetjan, 27, was born in Turpan and returned to his hometown after graduating from university in 2017. He decided to build a homestay based on his belief in the great potential for tourism in the area. So far, the homestay has provided employment for 10 local grape farmers.

This year, Grape Valley also offers nighttime tours and a cultural heritage market, providing more activities for tourists and job opportunities for people in the area, Liu said.

In Turpan, President Xi also went to Xinchengximen, a village in the Xincheng area of the town of Ya'er. Having pointed out that no ethnic group should be left behind in building a modern socialist country in all respects, Xi called for efforts to consolidate and expand what has been achieved in poverty alleviation, make solid progress in rural revitalization, bring prosperity, a happy life and a beautiful environment to rural residents.

Chen Jiacun, Party secretary of the Management Committee of Xincheng area, said Xi has emphasized the importance of choosing a suitable industry to support rural revitalization during his visit to the village.

"I told Xi that about 1,000 villagers have found employment in a nearby raisin processing factory and pigeon farms. They can easily care for their families while earning more income," Chen said.