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December 28, 2009

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Firm set to give Shaolin Temple a tourism kick

A new company was set yesterday to promote the culture of the world-famous Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province and the tourism of Songshan Mountain, home to the 1,500-year-old temple.

The CTS (Dengfeng) Songshan Shaolin Culture Tourism Co Ltd was established as a joint venture between the Dengfeng Songshan Shaolin Culture Tourism Group Co Ltd, which is owned by the Dengfeng city government in Henan, and the Hong Kong-based China Travel International Investment Hong Kong Limited, a subsidiary of the state-owned China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corporation (HKCTS).

The Hong Kong firm owns 51 percent and the Dengfeng company has 49 percent of the new joint venture, which has a registered capital of 100 million yuan (US$14.7 million).

"In the next 10 years, we will greatly promote the tourism of the Songshan Mountain scenic spot, improve the infrastructure and upgrade the services," said Bo Baohua, board chairman of the new company, at an inauguration ceremony held in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan.

"Meanwhile, we will greatly promote the Shaolin kungfu and culture," he said.

The new joint venture had come under spotlight as earlier reports said the government of Dengfeng, where the Shaolin Temple is located, was trying to have the religious place listed in the stock market.

The reports had sparked criticism against the Dengfeng government, as critics say it was selling state assets at a low price and the agreement would hurt the feelings of Shaolin monks and religious people.

But the Dengfeng government had denied the reports in a statement earlier this month, saying "16 cultural relics, including the Shaolin Temple, in the area will not be managed by the new joint venture".

Xu Muhan, HKCTS vice general manager, also refuted the reports.

"The shares that our company holds are of the Songshan Mountain scenic spot, which does not include the Shaolin Temple," he said.


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