Some of the elderly people who lived in the Li village stayed on when it was turned into a tourist attraction. They reside in boat-shaped houses, weaving Li brocade and playing traditional musical instruments, still living as their ancestors did and showcasing their traditional culture.


Binglang Valley received more than 980,000 tourists last year. These visitors may have brought bustle into the villagers’ peaceful life, but the villagers have also benefited.


Su Yingli, a 63-year-old Li woman who lives in the valley, leases her house to the park for a monthly rent of nearly 2,000 yuan ($312). She still lives in her house, cleaning it each morning before any tourists arrive.


As darkness falls, Su enjoys the tranquility with two good friends who she invited to live with her after her husband passed away four years ago.


The park was upgraded to a national 5A-level tourist attraction earlier this month, becoming the country’s first 5A-level park for folk customs.


A group of Russian painters visited Binglang Valley in March and were captivated by the original culture of the Li people and their mysterious totem art. The Russian artists described Binglang Valley as a "natural treasurehouse very suitable for creating art".


To attract more international visitors to appreciate Hainan island’s natural and cultural beauty, the provincial government provides inbound overseas tourist groups from 26 countries with visa-free entry.


Fourteen European countries are on the list, including Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Ukraine.


With the exception of Russia and Germany, tourist groups that consist at least five members from the other European countries on the list are allowed a visa-free stay in Hainan of up to 15 days.


The visa policy is even more relaxed for tourist groups from Russia and Germany. The maximum allowable stay for these nationals is 21 days and groups from the two countries need only include two people to qualify.


In total, 46,522 travelers visited Hainan on visa-free stays in 2014, mainly from Russia, the Republic of Korea, and Kazakhstan.


SOURCE: China Daily

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