LANZHOU, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Geru Tashi, a 57-year-old Tibetan herdsman, is the first person in his village to learn how to make coffee.
Having drunk traditional buttered tea for most of his life, this man, who runs a homestay, has added the aroma of roasted coffee beans to Kasho Village of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China's Gansu Province.
His coffee-making skills attract many tourists, including foreigners on road trips, to sip coffee and relax on the grassland.
"Our village is getting more beautiful, with more tourists. In just two or three years, I have changed from a pure herdsman to a small boss who benefits from tourism. I had a net income of 30,000 yuan (about 4,500 U.S. dollars) in 2019," said Geru Tashi.
Kasho received 800,000 visits in 2019, with more than 300 villagers working in the tourist sector. Each household at the 52 homestays earned more than 30,000 that year.
"I feel totally different this time, compared to when I traveled here five years ago. I cannot see any rubbish and the gorgeous scenery really lingers in my heart," said Wang Ning, a tourist from Shanghai who was trying the Tibetan food.
These remarkable changes began with the "environmental revolution" launched by the Gannan government in 2015, along with ongoing projects to boost tourism.
Since 2015, Gannan has concentrated on resolving environmental problems, which used to hamper its economic development.
Kasho Village was built to relocate herdsmen who suffered from harsh weather and poor health. In the early days, yak and sheep dung was often visible on the roads, as many people were living with livestock and piling up rubbish in front of their doors.
No tourist passing by would stop to enjoy the grassland scenery around the village.
But with the government's support and heightened awareness among the herdsmen, the village has been transformed into a local scenic spot. The dirt road has been paved with green stone slabs. The water supply, drainage, and public toilets have been upgraded.
The village has now been transformed, providing comfortable hotel accommodation along with an immersive cultural experience and folk-custom activities for tourists. Meanwhile, it has maintained the original rural feel and traditional Tibetan characteristics that appeal to visitors.
With more herdsmen like those in Kasho joining this environmental revolution, there has been a general improvement in the health of the local population. The local prevalence rate of echinococcosis, commonly known as "insect cancer," has greatly decreased, and the life expectancy of Gannan residents has risen to 66 years, from just 34 years before the 1950s.
These days, tourists visiting the prefecture, which covers 45,000 square km, will rarely see any rubbish. This development highlights the start of a new era, one empowered by tourism and with a more prosperous future.
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