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Rural homestays prosper in tranquil surroundings

China Daily| Updated: December 20, 2022 L M S

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Visitors to the homestay owned by Li Xiumei and her husband at the foot of Tianmu Mountain in Zhejiang province relax with family members and friends. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Camping facilities, weddings among services on offer

Li Xiumei considers herself a lucky player in the domestic tourism market that has borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite reports of confirmed cases across the country, Li's homestay in Zhejiang province continues to attract visitors — most of whom come from nearby cities — with its distinctive design and pastoral charm.

"We've managed to keep our booking rate above 80 percent during major holidays this year," Li said.

For the seven-day National Day holiday, which began on Oct 1, her homestay was fully booked.

"Most of the guests just wanted to spend time chilling out in peaceful surroundings, drinking tea and chatting with their family members and friends," Li said.

Three years ago, she and her husband, who are both in their 30s, decided to turn their old rural home at the foot of Tianmu Mountain into an idyllic getaway.

They hired professionals, and now provide a combination of eastern Chinese elegance and warmth for guests.

The old house was preserved, a new building was constructed to the side, and the entire site now comprises four courtyards. The original rammed earth walls are clad with recycled bricks, and the wooden structures are exposed on the inside, enabling guests to trace the history of the house.

Moreover, the living room features a large skylight, while the swimming pool and courtyards are lined with trees, through which visitors glimpse distant villages.

Since it opened in 2019, the homestay has drawn numerous visitors, with guests sharing their experiences on social media and through word of mouth.

Gong Jian and his friends in a choir from Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, have made several visits to Li's homestay. "It feels great singing together outdoors in the village, and our songs echo off the mountain and forest," Gong said.

With travelers staying closer to home during the pandemic, short journeys rose in popularity, triggering a boom for rural homestay businesses, particularly those with distinctive characteristics.

During the National Day holiday, bookings for short trips rose by more than 80 percent compared with those for Spring Festival this year, according to Fliggy, Alibaba Group's online travel agency platform.