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Quake relics to boost tourism

SICHUAN plans to strengthen tourism by opening some earthquake relic sites to travelers, provincial officials said yesterday.

"There is a huge tourism market in the ruins one year after the quake," said Wu Mian, deputy director of the Sichuan Provincial Tourism Department. "Lots of people have been coming to visit the quake zone, especially during the Spring Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day and the May Day holiday.

"We can not stop the tourists from coming. But we hope they behave properly and do not hurt the feelings of the survivors," he added.

The first relics to open include devastated tourist sites, schools, bridges and factories in the cities of Dujiangyan, Pengzhou, Mianzhu and Guangyuan as well as Yingxiu Township in Wenchuan County, he said.

Wu did not specify when the relics would open.

Donghekou Earthquake Relics Park, the first memorial park dedicated to the quake, has welcomed more than 260,000 visitors since it opened on November 12.

The park contains the ruins of Donghekou Village, where all but 300 of more than 1,400 villagers died in a landslide triggered by the earthquake on May 12, 2008.

The list of sites to be opened did not include Beichuan County. The old county seat was only open to former residents to mourn their families for the Tomb-Sweeping Day and the anniversary of the earthquake.

Dampened by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake, Sichuan's tourism industry earned 109 billion yuan (US$15.97 billion) last year, down 10 percent from 2007, according to National Tourism Administration statistics.


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