County in Yunnan Becomes a "Shangri-La"

Shangri-la is no more just a distant imaginary haven. The paradise has been brought to earth, as Zhongdian County in western Yunnan Province has renamed itself "Shangri-la."

At a news conference in Beijing yesterday, Shao Qiwei, vice-governor of the province in Southwest China, declared that the State Council granted Yunnan's request to rename Zhongdian in the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture "Shangri-la" on December 17, 2001.

With its snow-capped mountains, dense forests, turquoise-green lakes and charming Tibetan atmosphere, the region has long been considered the perfect match for James Hilton's Shangri-la in his novel "Lost Horizon," which was first published in 1933.

"The renaming definitely will boost the booming tourism of the region," said the official.

A series of cultural activities including an art festival and a fireworks show will be held in the region between May 5 and 10 to celebrate the event.

It will be an important part of the third annual China Kunming International Tourist Festival, Shao said.

The festival, sponsored by the Yunnan provincial government and the State Tourism Administration, will be held from April 10 to May 10 in 16 cities and prefectures in the province.

With the theme of folk arts of the province, the festival will promote dozens of cultural, sports and tourist events to visitors from home and abroad, including a local food festival, a gala night of Yi ethnic people in Stone Forests near Kunming (the capital of Yunnan), a flower festival in Danan, a trade fair of tour products, and international golf and tennis competitions.

(China Daily March 19, 2002)

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