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B&B industry booming in Boao, South China
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B&B industry booming in Boao, South China

Days before the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2024 commences, Zhong Xian's homestay is already fully booked.

"Business is quite good these days," said Zhong, 36, owner of Captain Vegetarian B&B, a homestay located by the sea in the coastal town of Boao in south China's Hainan Province.

Later this month, government officials, heads of international organizations, business figures, experts from diverse domains as well as the international media are set to gather here to discuss how the international community can work together to deal with challenges and shoulder responsibilities.

Zhong hails from Boao, located in Qionghai City. After graduating from university in 2011, she worked in cities like Guangzhou and Haikou, crafting and designing cultural products.

In 2016, she returned to her hometown. Drawing on her distinct vision, creativity and design background, she opened "Captain Vegetarian B&B."

"I named it 'Captain Vegetarian B&B' because the homestay is like a ship, and I hoped that tourists from all over the world would come to join us on the ship, enjoy the sea and share a good life here," Zhong said.

As a native of Boao and one of the first to open a homestay in the town, Zhong has seen the transformation of this once obscure town and the burgeoning local homestay industry, largely attributable to the BFA annual conferences.

"The biggest change in Boao is that it has become quite international and modern," she said, adding that in the past, there were few houses in the town, the old roads were rugged, and travel depended on tricycles.

Today in Boao, palm fronds sway gently against the backdrop of the blue ocean, while luxury hotels dot the skyline and cars glide along tree-lined boulevards.

The transformation of Boao has also spurred the development of the local tourism industry, with homestays, restaurants and bars springing up. Currently, there are more than 100 such businesses, and the local population has increased from just over 9,000 in 23 years ago to more than 30,000 today.

"Each year around the holiday season and the annual conference, homestays in the town are always full," Zhong said.

At her homestay, tourists can enjoy the unique experience of crafting creative products.

"We often organize parent-child interactive activities, such as betel leaf weaving, shell painting, marine science education, and sketching by the sea," she said. "These activities are not only popular among domestic tourists but also among foreign visitors, including those from Russia, the United States and Germany."

Zhong also occasionally holds free public lectures for children to create awareness about environmental protection and marine life.

The lectures garnered such popularity that an increasing number of parents started attending with their children, and they also received support from the local government, she said. "Preserving and passing on our local cultural traditions is one of my wishes as a native of Boao."

Zhong has also forged cooperation with local farmers, recruiting them to help collect raw materials for the production of cultural creative products.

In the future, she plans to integrate more local cultural elements into the homestay to facilitate a deeper understanding of Boao among more visitors.

"I am super proud of Boao," Zhong said. "I hope that more people will get to know the town and our culture."

Zhong Xian arranges the bedding at her homestay by the sea in the coastal town of Boao in south China's Hainan Province.

This undated file photo shows Zhong Xian teaching children at her homestay by the sea in the coastal town of Boao in south China's Hainan Province. 

Zhong Xian (L) is seen at her homestay by the sea in the coastal town of Boao in south China's Hainan Province​.

XinhuaShen Yi

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