Debate:Earthquake tourist spot

Updated: 2012-02-24 15:54


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Yingxiu people should have the final say

To boost tourism, Wenchuan county in Sichuan province, the site of a devastating 8.0 earthquake on May 12, 2008, is developing the town of Yingxiu, the epicenter, into a top national scenic spot, the Yingxiu 5.12 epicenter memorial, says an article in the Beijing Times. Excerpts:

May netizens have questioned whether it is appropriate to build a 5A-class, the top level, tourist attraction in what was a disaster area.

No one is denying that those who survived the earthquake in Yingxiu have a right to pursue a better life. There is even a precedent: in 1996, an earthquake turned Lijiang in Yunnan province into a tourist spot. Yingxiu seems to be following suit. In fact, a local tourist economy has already taken shape. Shortly after the earthquake, before the ruins had been cleared, Yingxiu had become a tourist attraction.

The local government has called for a national 5-A class tourist spot, but the voice of the people of Yingxiu has yet to be heard, so we don't know if the decision was made with their consent. The people of Yingxiu should have final say on whether to develop tourism and in what way. They are the most immediate victims of the disaster and the most direct stakeholders in developing tourism. It is not for outsiders to decide or pass judgment on them.

It's not that the town of Yingxiu cannot develop tourism, but it should be based on respect of the rights and wishes of the people of Yingxiu. Perhaps a solution can be arrived at that would take into account both a memorial to the disaster and developing tourism in a way that is acceptable to everyone.

Up to now, nobody has thought that mourning earthquake victims and developing tourism are in conflict. However, the local government-led campaign to build a national 5A-class scenic spot in Yingxiu is morally risky.

To develop tourism in the Wenchuan earthquake region, we should abide by a set of unique standards that take into account the characteristics of the earthquake zone, rather than the 5A-class tourism standards. The new standards should accord with both the Yingxiu people's wishes and Chinese people's feelings about the Sichuan earthquake.

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