The ancient town of Fenghuang, a popular tourist attraction in Hunan province, introduced a new pricing system earlier this month, which sparked strong protests from residents and business owners.
The incident reveals that the local government is failing to properly manage the cultural relics, says an article in Beijing Times (excerpts below).
Fenghuang has started to charge each tourist an entrance fee of 148 yuan ($24). Tourists could previously enter for free and were charged only when visiting designated areas.
The local government turns out to be the major beneficiary of the new pricing system. According to local media reports, 40 percent of the revenue under the new system will go to the local government.
A local government official even said that although the number of tourists had decreased since the introduction of the new fee, things will improve as tourists do not really care about ticket prices.
Tourists may well spend money to see various attractions. However, this should not serve to justify the introduction of a compulsory charge. Tourist spots inside the town, that must be preserved, understandably require an entrance fee, but tourists should decide on their own whether or not to visit these places and not have to pay a charge to visit the town.
Fenghuang, known for its well-preserved buildings, and scenic views along the Tuojiang River, is an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage.
It belongs to the people, not any local government official or travel company. The local government is responsible for managing and preserving the town, and has no right to take advantage of it for material gains.