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China Travel News and Events (Oct. 15th, 1999)

Largest Military Fort in Asia Opens

Dongning Fort built during World War II has opened to the public in Heilongjiang Province. The fortification covers an area of 300,000 square meters.

Dongning Fort located on the Chinese side along the Sino-Russian border is the largest military fort in Asia. The Japanese invaders forced Chinese people built it at the point of bayonets and leather-thronged whips. From its 10 sites discovered so far, the fortification is 92 kilometers wide and more than 50 kilometers long. Underground, it has the power generating room, ammunition depot, communication center, headquarters, and facilities of bath, and water and heat supply. Last April, experts discovered in the fort a great amount of bacteriological shells, gas bombs, cannon balls, bombs, land mines, antitank grenades, guns and other weapons made in Japan. In addition, they also found a mass grave, where more than 4,000 Chinese laborers were buried in about 20,000 square meters in Laochengzi Valley near Daduchuan Town in the military fortification area.

Surveys prove that the Dongning Fort is the largest of its kind in Asia, and the laborers' grave is the largest one in China where Japanese invaders brutally murdered the Chinese people. After full development, both Dongning Fort and laborers' grave will be designated as provincial cultural relics units by Heilongjaing Province.

China and USA Jointly Develop to Forest Tourism

Shexian County in Anhui Province and an American company will jointly develop forest ecological tourism resources in the Qingliang Peak Nature Reserve in Anhui Province. The project needs a total investment of 250 million yuan. The cooperation between the two sides is set for 53 years. The first three years are the construction period of the project.

Qingliang Peak is the main one in the Tianmu Mountains and noted for many beautiful scenic spots on its summit. The tableland boasts numerous kinds of life. There are 414 species of protophyte in 74 families. Among these, about two dozens are rare plants in China, and several dozens are rare animals under national protection.

Millennium Dragon Picture Album Published

The Millennium Dragon picture album has been published for distribution worldwide. It features gold and silver relief, and exquisite pictures to present the profound Chinese history and culture. The dragon is a symbol of China.

Since ancient times, the Chinese people have shown great esteem to the dragon. The year of 2000 is the year of Dragon according to Chinese lunar calendar. Thus, the folklore expert call it the Year of Millennium Dragon. Collected in the album are photos of 49 representative pieces of the rarest cultural relics with patterns of the dragon from large museums in China.

The cover of the album is inlaid with nine dragons one gold and eight silver. The Millennium Dragon is made with 4 grams of pure gold and each of the eight silver dragons is made with 11 grams of silver.

The gold dragon is a copy from the pattern on stone relief unearthed in Nanyang, Henan Province. They date back to the East ern Han Dynasty (25-220) and feature concise lines to display the magnificent beauty. The eight silver dragons are an imitation of the Jade Dragon unearthed from a Hongshan Culture site, the carved dragon on the ancient Zhaozhou Bridge, and those of Nine-Dragon Wall in Shanxi Province's Datong.

The Museum of Chinese History supervised the compilation of the album. Only 5,000 albums were printed and distributed worldwide.

Winter Resort Hot in Summer

China's traditional Hainan winter resort underwent an unusually busy tourism season this summer. All star-rated hotels were packed as though it were Spring Festival. With the sharp increase of travelers, transport prices for tour groups also increased-almost ten fold.

From August 19 to 24, Travel China reporters made a whirlwind tour of this southernmost island province, the only province with its whole territory within the tropical region. Reporters experienced the extended high tourist season for themselves. Tourist coaches painted with different travel company logos crowded the 280-kilometer Eastern Expressway. In Yalong Bay, the only national holiday resort in the province, arrivals increased by 40 percent from mid-July to mid-August compared with the same period last year. Also, the historical End of The Earth Scenic Area saw a 20 percent increase of tourists. The newly-built Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone received 2,000-some visitors per day in July and August-nearly ten times more than the number of visitors in 1998.

Sanya's hotel occupancy rates have also risen with the increase in tourism. The Sanya Gloria Hotel, the only five-star hotel in Sanya, had to remove all its executives from the hotel to make room for customers. In the four-star Sanya Orient Hotel, the occupancy rate remained steady at 95 percent through mid August. The same was true for the high-grade hotels in Haikou, the provincial. Even the not-yet-completed Baoting Spa in the remote Qixian Mountain area received many eco-tourists. According to general manager Xue Haiyan, the Baoting Spring Villa was often booked. Statistics from the provincial tourism administration show that Hainan received 855,000 tourists in July, a 34..5 percent increase over the corresponding period last year.

Local experts used four "mores" to sum up tourist market structure for this summer: more families, more teachers and students, more Hong Kong travelers and more large groups. Economists attributed the unprecedented summer peak season to the undisturbed ecological environment of the island. In China, family tours are now in vogue because of improved living standards. During the summer, students and teachers received 25 to 40 percent off their airfare.

Local tourism officials say that this summer's situation proved that the province's tourism promotion endeavors have paid off. Since January, the province has conducted many different activities to draw tourists to Hainan.

"Hainan to the 21st Century Photo Competition, " "China International Figure Swimming Championship" and "99 China Nanshan Longevity Cultural Festival" will take place towards the end of 1999.

Leshan Adds New Tourist Spots

Tourists to Sichuan Province's Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area in autumn will discover that new scenic spots and new sights have been added in the area.

The Leshan Giant Buddha has been eulogized as the "Largest Buddha in the World" which is a good combination of natural scenery with man-made sight. Its construction goes back about 1,200 years ago.

According to local tourism departments, some ecological tourist spots, a multiple-layer parking lot at the eastern entrance, cherry blossom garden, peach blossom valley and Chinese flowering crabapple orchard have been added in the scenic area. As a noticeable mark of renovating the spot around the Giant Buddha's head is a new platform from where people have the best angle to take photos.

The scenic area administration office is organizing tours of Leshan Mountain in autumn. Meanwhile, it is holding other activities, such as cultural relics exhibitions, calligraphy and painting shows, appreciating flowers in gardens, releasing captive animals, unveiling ceremony of Dragon Pool and Tiger Cave, and a ceremony for issuing Leshan Giant Buddha post cards.

Cooperation Brings Hong Kong Closer to Mainland

An agreement on cooperation in tourism has been reached between the Sichuan Provincial Tourism Administration and the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA). The agreement is the second one the HKTA has reached with China's mainland tourism administration. Sichuan Province is home of giant pandas. The Sichuan Provincial Tourism Administration and HKTA jointly offered the giant panda ecological tour after the central government decided to send two giant pandas -An An and Jia Jia to Hong Kong as gifts. The giant panda ecological tour to Sichuan's Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve will be launched later. According to the agreement signed between the Sichuan Provincial Tourism Administration and HKTA, the two sides will take measures to promote tours, provide information service to travel agencies, exchange ideas on soliciting foreign investment, and provide convenience to Hong Kong citizens during their visit to China's mainland, and vice versa.

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