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Sichuan to Make World Heritage Sites True to Name

Sichuan Province, a region with numerous world-renowned scenic sites in southwest China, pledged to upgrade the facilities of five scenic spots, including three on world heritage list, in an effort to beef up their reputation both at home and overseas.

The five scenic spots comprise Jiuzhaigou Natural Scenic Reserve and Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) Temple scenic area, the sitting gigantic Buddha statue in Leshan City and Mount Emei, one of the four sacred mountains for Buddhism in China, the ruins of Sanxingdui ancient city, Wolong Nature Reserve, popularly known as the "home of giant panda". Three scenic areas have been placed on the World Heritage list by the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

A total of 152 infrastructure projects in terms of transport, afforestation and auxiliary facilities will be built at the five scenic spots, at an estimated cost of 27.7 billion yuan (US$3.3 billion) in the 2004-2005 period, said Wang Huaichen, vice-governor of Sichuan Province.

The province allocated 2.8 billion yuan (about US$340) on construction of 106 projects last year. Another 59 projects will be launched this year.

Upon completion of these projects, the five scenic spots will be connected with the provincial capital of Chengdu and major cities in neighboring provinces and Chongqing municipality by high-grade highways. Tourists may book hotel rooms and buy air, ship and park entrance tickets on a newly-built website. An inquire system for information of the five scenic spots will be set up.

Famed a picturesque region, Sichuan played host to approximately 84.5 million Chinese and overseas tourists in 2003. The number of overseas visitors totaled around 450,000.

Wang predicted that Sichuan's tourist income will be rise 20 percent by 2010.
(Xinhua News Agency February 19, 2004)

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