Ongoing environmental regulation in the Gannan Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Gansu province has begun to take effect and is spurring tourism in the region.
Regulations were enacted by the prefecture’s government in 2015, when the area was listed as a State-level demonstration area for holistic tourism.
The rules focus on proper waste disposal, aiming for a garbage-free prefecture across its 45,000 square kilometers.
Lhamogyal, Party secretary of Gaxiu village in Gannan’s Luqu county, said the “environmental revolution” has brought dramatic change to the village since 2016.
“The villagers here herded livestock for a living, and litter appeared everywhere they went. The village used to be a mess of garbage,” he said. “The improper disposal of rubbish damaged the environment and scared off tourists.”
He said the situation improved after a sanitation squad was created in 2017.
“Members of the squad, about 30 to 50 residents, visit their neighbors to collect rubbish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
About 70 public restrooms with modern equipment were also built in Gaxiu last year, which greatly improved the sanitary conditions of the village and helped drive tourism development.
“More tourists come to our village,” Lhamogyal said. “About 3 million yuan ($434,000) has been generated since the beginning of the year.”
More than 11 million visitors were received by the prefecture, with income reaching 5 billion yuan in 2017 — double the visits and revenue of 2014 — according to the prefecture’s tourism bureau.
More environmentalists and associations are playing an active role in the environmental revolution. An Fuxiang, chairman of the Gannan Environmental Protection Association, an NGO founded in 2010, said the group organizes litter pickup every Saturday and also gives free lectures to local farmers and herdsmen to help improve their awareness of the litter problem and encourage them to stop contributing to it.
“As a native of Gannan, I hope that more people will join the effort to build a better and more beautiful city,” An said. “It will also improve incomes for residents. A better environment will bring more tourists.”