Protection of Erhai Lake in SW China's Yunnan yields economic benefits

(People's Daily Online) 09:42, April 10, 2024

Since 2015, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan Province has been rolling out strict measures to protect Erhai Lake, leading to the continuous improvement of the lake’s water quality.

As the ecological environment of Erhai Lake continues to improve, the lake that boasts a picturesque scenery captivates throngs of tourists all year round. The ecological benefits of the lake have been transformed into economic benefits.

Photo shows the beautiful scenery of Erhai Lake from Xindi Coffee in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Yunnan Province. (Photo courtesy of the interviewee)

Located near the Erhai Lake Ecological Corridor, Xindi Coffee in Xiamo village, Dali city of the prefecture opens at 6:30 a.m. these days to welcome tourists who come to watch the sunrise.

Tourists can also enjoy the sun’s rays penetrating the clouds, known as the Tyndall effect, rainbow, beautiful ottelia acuminata, an aquatic species endemic to China and a sign of high-quality water, and black-headed gulls at the coffee shop.

At the cafe's balcony, visitors often take photos with Erhai Lake in the backdrop. "We have a steady stream of visitors from morning till night. We received a maximum of over 4,000 tourist visits a day, 99 percent of whom came from other places," said Du Jie, owner of the cafe, which has become a popular destination.

"After the ecological corridor was built, our visitor numbers skyrocketed by more than 100 times," Du added.

In Xiamo village, many villagers have capitalized on their proximity to the ecological corridor by opening up snack shops, cold drink stores, inns, craft stores, and photo studios.

Benefiting greatly from the conservation efforts of Erhai Lake, Du said his cafe's success is inextricably linked to the lake. "The clearer the lake is, the better my cafe's business is," he noted.

Dali prefecture has taken measures to curb agricultural non-point source pollution, which used to be a major pollution source of the water in Erhai Lake.

Photo shows the stunning scenery of the Xizhou old town in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Yunnan Province. (People's Daily Online/Fu Hao)

In the Xizhou old town facing Erhai Lake, the government has promoted the ecological planting of crops such as wheat and rice.

The implementation of pollution control projects for the lake effectively prevents irrigation water for agricultural activities from flowing into the lake. The building of water-saving irrigation facilities channels irrigation water into wetlands for natural purification and irrigation.

The vast expanses of wheat and rice fields offer breathtakingly pleasant views.

Duan Yufeng, the person in charge of a branch of Dali Tourism Ancient Town Development Co., Ltd., said that since 2017, the company has obtained nearly 3,000 mu (200 hectares) of land through the transfer of land-use rights from locals in the Xizhou old town for ecological planting. The expansive wheat and rice fields blend seamlessly with Erhai Lake, creating a romantic landscape that has drawn a significant influx of visitors to the town.

Records show that Xizhou old town, as an important tourist attraction along the shores of Erhai Lake, has seen the largest daily visitor flow of over 40,000.

In recent years, destination weddings, where ceremonies are held in tourist spots, have emerged as a new business form in Dali's tourism industry.

"Destination weddings started to emerge in Dali around 2019, and have since been growing by 200 percent annually," according to Zhao Canhui, head of the association for destination wedding ceremonies under the tourism association in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture.

In 2023, Dali was the chosen location for over 4,000 couples' wedding ceremonies, with at least 90 percent coming from outside the province, and the total output value exceeding 200 million yuan ($27.65 million), he added.

The breathtaking scenery of Erhai has played an indispensable role in the rise of destination weddings in Dali.

A wedding ceremony takes place beside Erhai Lake in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Yunnan Province. (Photo courtesy of the interviewee)

Dali offers more than 30 types of wedding ceremonies and boasts of over 100 businesses dedicated to destination weddings and related services.

Last year, Dali city received over 60 million domestic and international tourist visits, a remarkable 72 percent increase from the previous year, generating total tourism revenue of more than 90 billion yuan, up by about 85 percent year on year.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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