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Pollution will deter tourists

Updated: 2013-02-21 07:27
( China Daily)

More than 70 million foreign tourists a year make France the most visited country. Coming to China for the fourth time, I think that China has the capacity to supplant France.

Beijing has nothing to be ashamed of when compared to Paris. Famous historical and cultural sites are everywhere in Beijing: the Summer Palace, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, hutong, not to mention the delicious roast duck.

There are also classical gardens in Suzhou, the famous army of terracotta warriors in Xi'an, the Yungang Grottoes in Datong, and many other attractions in the rest of the country, too many to list now. This is also reflected in the UNESCO table of world heritage sites: 38 for France and 43 for China.

It is easy to travel almost everywhere in China by plane, high speed train or by road, and in big cities subways make it easy to visit places. The Chinese tourist infrastructure is also well developed, Sanya, in the south of Hainan island for instance, has nothing to learn from the French Riviera. Moreover, everywhere you go the people give a warm welcome.

The challenge is that due to the booming Chinese economy, will pollution put a brake on the number of tourists visiting China? On every street people can be seen wearing protective face masks because of the air pollution, which could frighten potential Western foreign tourists.

China is not a novice in environmental protection and the Chinese government has recently taken action to reduce the levels of air pollution after hazardous smog hit the capital. China's reputation and image is on the line.

Nicolas Redureau, via e-mail

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(China Daily 02/21/2013 page9)