A village in tropical Hainan province is to become the island's first space tourism destination, according to local government plans.
Residents of Haosheng village, about 5 kilometers from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, have already witnessed changes since the center began operations last year, with many now selling food to visitors who turn out to watch launches.
The Wenchang city government wants villagers to be even better off by taking advantage of the space technologies, such as by cultivating and selling vegetables grown from seeds developed through experiments in space.
"The plan is that farmers will grow 'space vegetables' and 'space plants' for tourists to eat, and plant 'space plants' for them to see," said Wang Xiaoqiao, mayor of Wenchang.
"There will also be space-themed children's amusement parks, sales of space-themed souvenirs and space-themed hostels. Space will be referenced in every aspect, from food and accommodation to commodities and transportation."
Visitors can expect to have a unique experience, enjoying a combination of space culture and local folk lifestyle, he said.
The village, with only a dozen households and a population of about 50, who used to make a living from fishing, has been busy preparing farmland for the space tourism plan.
Wenchang Space Breeding Center will soon send seedlings to the village, which are free of charge due to city government funding.
According to Zhou Tianyu, director of the breeding center, they have created about 40 varieties of vegetables, fruits and plants with seeds retrieved from space labs, including eggplant, bell peppers, bitter gourd and cherry tomatoes, for the villagers to choose from.
The varieties were created by breeders who spent years nurturing and selecting the prime seeds with desired traits from seeds retrieved from space.
Space vegetables and fruits are expected to yield an output 20 to 30 percent higher than conventional ones, Zhou added.
In about two months, fruits and vegetables will be harvested in the first stage of fields, covering 1.3 hectares, in Haosheng, which has a total of about 6.7 hectares of arable land.
"Haosheng is only the start for us. We will introduce the practice to a large number of nearby villages by means of cooperatives, and ensure that space science and technology benefits the city's rural population," Wang said.
Zhang Wugang, an expert on tourism product design, said that Wenchang, in addition to its rich history and ecological resources, has great potential for developing space tourism.
Meanwhile, Wenchang is drafting a plan to build an international aerospace city and expand the Wenchang launch center into an international, open and commercial launch center, and a technology and talent hub, Wang added.