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The Great Wall a Pillar of China抯 Travel Industry
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The Great Wall has become a pillar resource of China's travel industry, a conclusion drawn by China's Great Wall Investigation Team after two months of inspection from August to September this year.

The China Great Wall Investigation Team, organized by China's Great Wall Society, started examinations from Hushan, by the Yalu River, Liaoning Province, in the east, moved through Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Beijing, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu, to Jiayuguan in the west, touring more than 9,000 km (5,590 miles) to complete the largest ever onsite investigation of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

According to China's Great Wall Society, 15 million people from all over the world have visited the Great Wall in recent years. The Great Wall has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.

The Badaling section of the Great Wall, located in Yanqing County, Beijing, received over 60,000 people per day during the high season. Last year over 5 million tourists contributed 150 million yuan (US$18 million) to income through entrance tickets. Meanwhile, during the past 50 years, the Badaling section of the wall has welcomed more than 380 visiting foreign heads of state and prime ministers, witnessing a series of important historical events in Chinese diplomatic history. In this sense, Badaling has become a symbol of China's policy of opening up to the outside world, representing peace and friendship.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese government first restored and opened the Juyongguan, Badaling and Shanhaiguan sections of the wall, in order to promote tourism. Later other sections of the wall were repaired and opened, including the Jiayuguan, Jinshanling, Mutianyu, Simatai, Jiumenkou, Huangyaguan, Yumenguan and Yangguan sections, along with additional structures such as Wei (a garrison town where troops were stationed during the Ming Dynasty), Suo (a garrison post pass), passes, blockhouses, watchtowers and signal towers.

The Great Wall's restoration not only re-demonstrates its historical greatness and enhances its protection, but also adds relevant services, providing more conveniences for tourists. Today, in addition to the general sightseeing tours, various specific travel programs are booming around the Great Wall, such as the Great Wall Marathon, the Great Wall Summer School, the Great Wall Investigation and the Tour along the Great Wall among others.

Apart from the well-known sections such as Badaling, Shanhaiguan and Jiayuguan, some little known sections such as the Hushan section in Liaoning, the Baiyangyu and the Qingshanguan sections in Hebei, the Shoukoubaozi, the Deshengbao and the Laoniuwan sections in Shanxi, the Yangjiacheng section and the Yulin section in Shaanxi, the Shandan and the Dunhuang Tuhang sections in Gansu, are all now beginning to attract a large number of tourists.

Meanwhile, there are still more sections of the Great Wall being repaired and developed for tourists in the near future.

What's more, like a gigantic dragon's body, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, rivers and mountains, so tourists can appreciate these beautiful scenes while enjoying the magnificence of the Great Wall.

Besides the natural wonders, tourists can visit some world cultural heritage like the Dunhuang and Yungang grottoes, together with some national historical and cultural cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, Dandong, Qinghuangdao, Datong, Yinchuan, Wuwei, Zhangye, Jiuquan and Jiayuguan.

(China.org.cn by Zheng Guihong, December 21, 2002)

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