"Cyclist economy" along National Highway 318 in Garze

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On Jun. 10, in front of the "Da Asan Cyclists Inn" in Xianggezong Village of Yajiang County, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, two cyclists carefully adjusted their bikes as they prepared to climb Jianzi Wan Mountain. At another inn not far away, four other cyclists from Hunan Province geared up for their journey along the National Highway 318 to Lhasa.

Xianggezong Village, at an altitude of 2,900 meters, is located 14 kilometers away from Yajiang Counties near the National Highway 318. Due to its unique geographic location, there are often cyclists staying there. The increasing number of cyclists and lack of cheap hotels led to the opening of many local "Cyclist Inns".

The "Da Asan Cyclists Inn" was originally a three-story Tibetan house. In Jun. 2010, the owner Tsering converted it into an inn and started to welcome cyclists. His average annual income can now reach up to 100,000 yuan.

"Business is pretty good and we’ve started to give up farming and rely on the inn", Tsering said.

"Before, when people relied on cordyceps sinensis matsutake and working outside, the per capita net income in Xiangezong Village was 30,000 – 40,000 yuan. At present, with the help of inns, the per capita net income there has increased to 60,000 – 70,000 yuan," said Wang Yongqiang, Director of the Yajiang Cultural Tourism Bureau. Nowadays, 26 of the 34 houses in Xianggezong Village are operated as travel inns, thus the "Cyclist Economy" has become a new source of income for the local villagers.

"We should attract tourists by favorable environment and facilities", Wang Yongqiang added.

Xianggezong Village has been established as a key tourism village in Yajiang County in recent years.. In 2013, the county government invested millions in making the "Cyclist Inns" as a name card by improving basic facilities, such as public toilets, directive fence and courtyard walls.

Once the basic facilities are completed, they could introduce standardized management at the "Cyclist Inns", in a bid to improve their capacity and standardize their business practices.

(Note: one US dollar ≈6.2 yuan)