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Capital sets limits on building ski resorts
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-06 00:15

The Beijing municipal government is considering restrictions on building new ski playgrounds in the city's suburbs in order to protect the environment, the Beijing News reported yesterday.

Those already built will be strictly supervised and could be shut down if they fail to meet environmental standards, says the report.

The paper quotes an unnamed Beijing tourism official as saying that skiing has become more and more popular in recent years in Beijing, but some man-made ski areas pose dangers to the surrounding environment.

The official said if a new ski resort project would imperil the environment, especially vegetation in the area,it will not likely obtain government approval.

Fang Zehua,Beijing Tourism Bureau spokesman, told China Daily his bureau is not in charge of approving ski resorts, but draws up related management standards.

Fang said his bureau is revising the city's 2000-10 tourism development plan and has turned a new concept of "mountain eco-tourism areas" into draft amendment.

"The mountainous areas where most of the ski resorts are located will pay much more attention to environmental protection in order to maintain local tourism resources. If some tourism facilities there severely damage the environment, they will be shut down," said Fang.

He said his bureau has already ordered ski resort operators to plant trees and grass along ski tracks that are usually left barren in warm seasons when the snow melts away.

Most of the ski playgrounds in Beijing are located in the hilly areas with dense forests.

However, in order to ensure the safety of skiers, many trees along the ski tracks were uprooted, leaving mountainous areas facing the threat of severe soil erosion.

Wang Shitong, manager of the Jundushan Ski Resort in Beijing, was quoted by a local newspaper as saying his company invested a large amount of money in environmental protection last year. For instance, more than 4,000 trees were planted at the playground.

Wang said other ski resorts in Beijing have also taken similar efforts in order to maintain sustainable development, though it adds more costs to their operations.

Last winter, the city's 12 ski resorts received a total of more than 800,000 visitors and the number is expected to climb up by 10 per cent this year.

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