Tourism boom opens the road to riches

Updated: 2013-11-07 07:54

By Hu Yongqi and Li Yingqing (China Daily)

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Tourism boom opens the road to riches

Bara villagers celebrate the Tibetan New Year on the summit of Darakelzom mountain, which is regarded as sacred by the local people. Provided to China Daily

Hu Yongqi
and Li Yingqing report in Shangri-La, Yunnan, on Tibetans' quest for a better life.

For the past two months, people living in the Gangchu River valley near Nyishar, a township in Yunnan province, have become accustomed to seeing the tall, portly figure of Sonam Dingdzog.

Sonam strides across the fields as he directs operations to clear rocks brought crashing down from the mountains by two earthquakes in August.

Oct 20 was another day of strenuous activity for Sonam, general manager and 45 percent stakeholder in the company operating Darakelzom National Park in Nyishar's Bara village in the Diqing Tibetan autonomous prefecture.

He rushed 300 km in four hours to oversee clearance and repair work on the highway connecting the park and the county seat of Shangri-La.

The 40-km highway has a particular significance for Sonam, because he was the driving force behind its construction. It took five years to build and cost about 200 million yuan ($33 million), some of which came from his own pocket.

When it opened five years ago, the Bara native finally achieved his goal of building an asphalt road to his village and opening the area to visitors.

To see the road threatened by tremors was like a knife being thrust into his heart.

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