Badaling, the nearest stretch of the Great Wall to Beijing, is
receiving far more visitors than its ancient bricks, walls and
trees can withstand, the municipal bureau of landscape and forestry
In a draft on the management and protection of a 326 square
kilometer area of tourist attractions in northwestern Beijing that
groups Badaling, the Ming Tombs and several other less famous
sites, the bureau suggested the daily maximum number of visitors be
restricted to 53,300. Annually, the figure should be kept within 16
The plan, set for 2007 through 2020, was published on the
bureau's website on Tuesday to solicit public comment for 10
A senior engineer with the bureau, who declined to be named,
said no comments had been received as of 4 p.m. on Wednesday. "We
only received several phone inquiries from reporters," she told
The plan, even after central government approval, will only
serve as a long-term objective rather than a binding document.
"I don't think Badaling or the Ming Tombs would be forced to
limit the daily number of visitors anytime soon," she said. "But we
do hope more tourists could be diverted to less-crowded
destinations to better protect the ancient structures and ensure
Badaling alone received an average 62,000 visitors daily during
this year's May "golden week", according to figures provided by the
Badaling management office shortly after the holiday. On May 4, it
received a record 72,000 visitors.
Phone calls to the Badaling promotion and publicity department
on Wednesday went unanswered.
A clerk at the press and publicity office of the Ming Tombs said
she was unaware of the forestry bureau's plan and dismissed the
idea as "impossible". "I haven't heard of it, but I don't think it
She said no figures were available regarding the number of
visitors to the tombs.
Most travel services list the tombs as a stop-off on the way to
Badaling. The two sites are often visited in one day.
The Great Wall stretches 6,700 kilometers from the west to
northeast China. Its construction dates back to the Warring States
Period (475-221 B.C.) when separate sections were built in
scattered strategic areas to ward off invasion by northern nomadic
Several other sections are open to tourists, including Simatai
and Mutianyu in the eastern suburbs.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization listed the wall as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2007)