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Beichuan tourism plan approved

Sichuan province's Beichuan county, which was devastated by last May's earthquake, aims to become an internationally renowned travel destination for its Qiang ethnic minority culture, quake ruins and legacy as Xia Dynasty founder Dayu's birthplace, the county's tourism development master plan said.


The plan yesterday passed appraisal by more than 40 experts nationwide and officials from Sichuan.


It called for constructing tourism infrastructure from 2009 to 2011.


Tourism would develop dramatically from 2012 to 2015 until Beichuan became a top-class domestic tourist destination, while it would become an internationally leading site for earthquake ruins from 2016 to 2020, the plan said.


The plan also said Beichuan must develop three or four attractions appealing to overseas visitors. Its project list includes an earthquake museum, an ethnic Qiang street and a plaza showcasing local ethnic minority culture. The plan, which the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' tourism research center developed over eight months, will go to the provincial government for approval before post-quake tourism reconstruction begins, said Zhang Jie, an information officer for Mianyang, which administrates Beichuan.


Beichuan was among the counties most devastated by the May 12 earthquake. Of the nearly 70,000 people who died, more than 10,000 were in the county.


Beichuan is the country's only Qiang autonomous county. It was home to about 90,000 Qiang people prior to the quake, but about 10 percent of them died in the disaster, the county's publicity department deputy chief Wang Jian said.


The ethnic group is known for living in stone towers resembling fortresses and for worshiping the goat - an animal revered as the god of food and clothing.


Beichuan is best known as the birthplace of Dayu, the legendary founder of the Xia Dynasty (21st century-16th century BC).


(China Daily April 16, 2009)