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Measures in Place for Keeping Beauty of Kanas

Environmental protection was given priority at Kanas, a growing tourism destination in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region famous for its gorgeous scenery and its "lake monster."


"All of the hotels and restaurants will withdraw from the scenic site to 30 kilometers away," said Jin Liquan, an official with the Kanas Environment and Tourism Bureau.


The move aims to protect the environment of Kanas, a scenic site that is part of the European ecosystem and borders Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia.


Meanwhile, construction of environmental facilities including sewage and garbage treatment plants will be completed soon.


According to Mao Ken, commissioner of Altay Prefecture where Kanas is located, the government invested 1 billion yuan (US$120 million) on environmental facilities.


"Education for tourists is also important," he said.


An education centre is being created to provide information on how to protect the environment in Kanas.


In the past, 35 kilometers of grazing areas were found within the site. Herdsmen would bring their livestock there in the summer.


"We introduced them to other grazing land nearby," Mao said of the more than 300,000 livestock that would cause overgrazing. "Areas of 40,000 square meters that were somewhat negatively affected by grazing have been protected."


But he vowed that the government would not interfere with the lives of traditional residents in Kanas.


It is expected that Kanas will receive more than 500,000 tourists this year, 4,000 more than last year, according to the official.


"However, there are still few overseas visitors," he said.


Statistics showed that only 2 percent of the total number of tourists are foreigners.


"This is partly because the transportation facilities connecting Kanas are still not convenient enough," Mao said.


Currently, there is only a highway connecting Kanas.


"Upon request from tourists, construction of an airport will start this month and will be completed by the end of next year," the official said.


A total of 200 million yuan (US$24 million) was invested in the airport.


A railway line connecting Kuitun and Altay will also open to traffic in 2008 to make it possible to travel to Kanas by train, potentially bringing in more tourists.


(China Daily September 28, 2005)

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