The establishment of the China Shangri-La Eco-Tourism Area, a project jointly undertaken by southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and Tibet Autonomous Region, has made encouraging progress over the past year. This is revealed at a coordination conference of the project held in Kunming, capital city of Yunnan, on October 27.
The three cooperative partners reached agreement on the establishment of the area last May, and immediately began preparatory works, including establishment of relevant organizations and institutions and conducting on-the-spot investigation on the available tourism resources.
Work also began on several aspects of the project involving closing hillsides to facilitate forestation, reforesting some previously cultivated lands and taking steps to preserve the natural forest. Sichuan Province has completed 105,800 hectares of forestation by artificial planting and 38,800 hectares by aerial seeding.
Yunnan Province, meanwhile, is implementing the Yangtze River shelter-forest building, as well as natural forest preservation and some cultivated lands reforestation. It has arranged for 2.22 billion yuan (US$268.22 million) to be set aside to implement the project of "the Yangtze River and its upper reaches water pollution preventive plan."
Departments at all levels are working to speed up the construction of scenic spots and infrastructure facilities in key areas.
For example, the Tibet Autonomous Region invested more than 60 million yuan (US$7.25 million) in the infrastructure project of the Qiangba Temple in Changdu County, Ranwu Lake in Basu County, Yanjing (Salt Well), Hongla Mountain and Quzi in Mangkang County. Yunnan Province invested more than 5 million yuan (US$604,000) in building a tourist service center in the Gedansongzan Forest Monastery in Shangri-La County, a Tibetan cultural center in Xiaozhongdian, and a festival celebration square in Deqin County. The Changdu area in Tibet Autonomous Region has checked a group of tourist restaurants and hotels, and created local tourist entertainment companies.
The improvement of traffic conditions is conspicuous. In the field of air travel, the area has opened routes to all parts of the country. Currently, Huanglong Airport of Sichuan Province is open to air traffic and construction of Linzhi Airport of the Tibet Autonomous Region has begun. Regarding roads, refurbishment of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway is progressing smoothly. The Suijiang River and Jinsha River Bridge with an investment of 18 million yuan (US$2.17 million) and connecting Sichuan and Yunnan has opened to traffic.
In the field of strengthening information and personnel exchanges, the area has opened an Internet information service for the Shangri-La Eco-Tourism Area. Currently, a dozen tourist service websites named after Shangri-La offer conveniences to tourists. The Tourism Bureau of Sichuan Province has trained about 100 tourist guides for the Tibet Autonomous Region.
The conference, attended by the area's responsible officials, will finish the overall plan of the construction of the China Shangri-La Eco-Tourism Area as soon as possible. Officials will also continue to discuss issues related to development of tourism in the area.
(China.org.cn translated by Li Jingrong October 31, 2003)