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Largest cave to be tourist spot
( 2003-10-25 10:44) (China Daily)

Hong Kong-based Free True Group and two mainland firms are investing 150 million yuan (US$18 million) to develop China's largest cave into a tourist spot in central China's Hubei Province.

The first phase of the project, costing 50 million yuan (US$6 million), will be open to the public next October, Zhang Deqing, tourism bureau director of Lichuan, a city in western Hubei, told China Daily.

The whole project will be completed in 2007.

Free True, which has invested in construction material plants in Guangdong, Fujian provinces and hotels in Hubei, will take a 65 per cent stake in the project, according to a deal signed in June.

Lichuan Qingjiangyuan Tourism, which represents the local government, has a 15 per cent share.

Huangshan Zhong'an, which manages the tourism of famous scenic spot Huangshan Mountain, will take a 20 per cent share and send management staff.

The local government is optimistic about the income the developed-cave will bring to Lichuan.

"It is estimated that the tourist industry will generate 165 million yuan (US$20 million) for the city in 2007, and create 56,000 jobs," said Zhang.

The city's current tourist income is just several million yuan.

The cave, locally known as Tenglong Cave, or Soaring Dragon Cave, ranks seventh among the world's largest caves.

It is 74 metres high and 64 metres wide at the entrance, and runs at least 52.8 kilometres into the depth of the mountain, according to initial exploration.

Currently, transport to the area is not satisfactory, but it will improve after the completion of an expressway and a railway in a few years.

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