During the summer, about 160,000 tourists from lower neighboring areas swarmed into the mountain town of Moudao to enjoy its temperate climate and avoid the heat.
The population swelled, exceeding those in a number of county-level cities, vehicles jammed the roads and tourists packed into the market.
While many local businesspeople found that trade had tripled or even quadrupled, the town's public servants were forced to work hard to manage the new "city".
Wang Houjun, the mayor, said he had been lucky: "I had opportunities to return to Lichuan city, as I had to attend meetings there, but my colleagues had to stay at their posts continually for more than a month during the summer."
Apart from 60 government officials, Moudao has just four urban management officials and nine police officers, so village cadres were mobilized to help.
"The support facilities in the town lag far behind the tourists' expectations. The town has developed too quickly and this has put great pressure on us," Wang said, adding that sometimes dozens and even hundreds of people complained to authorities about inadequate supplies of power, water and gas.
He said it was fortunate that most of the outsiders who have bought apartments in the town are well-educated and understood his explanation.
"Many of them come from the Wanzhou district of Chongqing. I told them that there are lots of problems in Moudao, if you compare the town with Chongqing. However, Chongqing has been developed for several hundred years, while Moudao has been developed for just five," he said.
Wang said the town government "has a willing sprit, but the flesh is weak", meaning the authorities find it difficult to run the town because of limited administrative clout and a lack of law-enforcement officials. "We need to do a lot of things we are not capable of doing," he said, adding that the government is applying preferential policies to improve the situation.
Chen Jianping, Party secretary of Moudao, said an estimated 300,000 people will eventually stay in the town. To cope with the influx, more roads, including two ring roads and a bypass, have been planned and construction will probably begin early next year.
He added that the government also plans to build a surveillance system and tourists will be asked to volunteer and help to maintain order. The government is also building plants for the treatment of sewage and waste, and ecological protection will be a priority during the next phase of development.