Feature: South China's coastal village rides waves to prosperity

(Xinhua) 14:53, December 02, 2023

HAIKOU, China, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Hu Zhigang never expected the significant success his surfing club would achieve upon returning to his coastal hometown, Tianxin Village.

Nestled just a few hundred meters from Riyue Bay, a renowned surfing destination in Wanning City, in Hainan Province, this village now attracts worldwide surf enthusiasts to ride breaking waves. It is witnessing sustained growth in the surfing industry and the ensuing economic developments that are transforming this once obscure fishing village into a thriving surfing paradise.

"I feel lucky to have started a business in my hometown," said Hu, who seized the opportunities in 2021 that came with the progress of the local surfing industry, following his departure from a job in the southern Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen.

This 25-year-old villager revealed that his surfing club has earned an average annual income of 200,000 to 300,000 yuan (approximately 28,021 to 42,032 U.S. dollars) since its inception.

Motivated by the booming business, Hu opened a restaurant this year, featuring the Li ethnic minority specialities. His aim is to enable visitors to savor authentic delicacies and immerse themselves in local culture.

"Over a hundred young natives have returned from big cities to launch businesses, injecting renewed vitality into our village," said Chen Zhenguo, an official of Tianxin Village.

He recalled that most villagers had previously earned their living by fishing and farming, often with modest incomes, while the younger generation tended to look for opportunities beyond the village.

However, the situation has evolved with the rise of surfing, providing villagers with more confidence to seek their fortune through the establishment of local supporting facilities that bolster the surfing industry.

Tianxin Village now boasts 30 surfing clubs and 36 guesthouses, according to statistics. Commercial amenities such as supermarkets and restaurants are taking shape, contributing to the employment of nearly a quarter of local villagers and making Tianxin an even more ideal destination for surfing.

Such a surfers' heaven draws visitors like Tang Xin to settle and pursue new possibilities.

Tang was captivated by the surfing culture and the prosperity of nearby Tianxin Village while reveling in the waves of Riyue Bay two years ago. He then decided to rent a house and turn it into a cozy guesthouse.

"Our rooms get fully booked up before holidays," said Tang, adding that the construction of extra parking lots and charging stations has offered tourists better experiences.

Nowadays, about five to six thousand people visit Riyue Bay daily, surging to over ten thousand during peak season. Many of them choose to get accommodations in Tianxin Village while rejoicing in surfing.

"With surfing gaining recognition as an Olympic event, the appeal of this niche sport is increasing among young people," said Ye Nan, deputy mayor of Wanning City. Dozens of teenagers in Tianxin Village have become well-known surfing athletes in China, some of whom won championships in surfing games.

Ye added that the government is actively exploring ways to harness local resources to integrate sports and tourism for industry expansion, endeavoring to improve nationwide fitness and support rural revitalization.

In addition to surfing, visitors coming to Tianxin Village can now take pleasure in a variety of cultural and sports activities in Riyue Bay, such as beach yoga, sunset parties, beach music festivals, and other trendy sports events. This diversity enhances the overall charm of the destination, cultivating a stronger connection for visitors to this lively countryside.

"The allure of sports goes beyond promoting health and happiness. It also holds the potential to benefit a village and propel a city forward," said the deputy mayor.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Hongyu)


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