To promote local tourism, officials with Xiaoshan in Hangzhou city went creative with couch surfing, the worldwide concept of offering travelers a couch or a bed to sleep on for free, according to chinanews.com.
The first batch of tourists from around 4,000 applicants were hosted by 10 local families arranged by Xiaoshan Tourism Bureau on Oct 27, 2014.
Besides free accommodation, host families also offer guests a chance to experience local culture and lifestyle, from cooking specialties to biking among the fields.
According to Xu Jianhong, deputy director of the Xiaoshan Tourism Bureau, organising couch surfing is a recent move to promote local tourism, especially in-depth tours, which allow visitors to maximise their travel experience.
"We selected different types of families to host different guests, so they would better fit each other," Xu said.
"For example, a cycling enthusiast is the best person to recommend biking routes, and a mother will know better what a family with children wants."