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Forum brings opportunities to town of Boao


03-23-2017 14:10 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 Boao Forum

(Source: CGTN)

The Boao Forum for Asia gets its name from the coastal town of Boao, in China's southern province of Hainan.  In the sixteen years of hosting the forum, what changes have the small town -- and its people -- seen?

For the longest time, fishing and farming have been a central feature of these people's lives. But now things are changing, as a booming tourism industry, stirred by the rise of the forum, is bringing local residents new opportunities.

Wang Ping is a Boao native, and, for generations, he and his family worked on the fields, cultivating rice and raising pigs. But a few years after the forum was founded, he was one of first in the village who sensed the growing business opportunities. He was quick to seize them.

"First, I opened a small food stand on the street in 2003. There I sold barbecue and noodle soup. The growing number of tourists helped my business grow and make more money. I then opened a small restaurant in a bamboo house in 2008... and 3 years after that... I opened an even bigger one. Now, nearly 200 people can eat here at the same time," Wang said.

Inspired by the swarm of tourists, Wang Ping says it's not only villagers of his generation that have made the switch from a farming dominated-life, to something new. Young people are also choosing to stay closer to come.

"Now young people don't have to go to the big cities to work as migrant workers, as there are many companies making investments and doing projects here in Boao. They can now easily find a job in the service or construction industry," Wang said.

The growing economy has not only encouraged local residents to shift their lifestyles, but it has also fascinated people from afar, and Lin Li is one of them.

She’s originally from the island of Taiwan, but the rising reputation of Boao has attracted her to come here for the first time. For her it's not just the business opportunities that have brought her here, but the town’s unique beauty and tranquillity. And, it has convinced her to stay.

She's opened a coffee house by the seaside, and aims to serve up a cup of authentic black coffee to the visitors. Lin says the best thing about Boao is that she can make not only a living, but also a life.

"To be honest, compared with big cities, you will never make big money in Boao. But I still see the potential for growth here in this town. More importantly, I think Boao is the place where you can perfectly combine work with life," Lin said.

Thanks to the Forum, this seemingly isolated and undeveloped town has now shined its charms. It welcomes around 8,000 tourists on a daily basis, and over 3 million each year.

Lin Li says that many changes have happened in the past years, but at the same time, the valuable parts remain unchanged.

"I really love the native people here in Boao, they are very very kind, and throughout all these years, their honesty and simplicity hasn't changed at all," Lin said.

While Boao has changed from an obscure fishing village to a famous tourism town, the Boao Forum for Asia has also developed to not only promote economic integration among Asian countries, but also to have an impact on local people’s lives. And perhaps this is what the forum is truly about - bringing changes, possibilities and opportunities to people across Asia.

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