Her­itage sites ex­alt preser­va­tion spirit

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

Hoh Xil in North­west China’s Qing­hai province and Gu­langyu Is­land in East China’s Fu­jian province were in­cluded in the UNESCO World Her­itage list last week, which means China now has 52 world her­itage sites, sec­ond only to Italy’s 53. Two ex­perts share their views with China Daily’s Zhang Zhoux­i­ang on how to bet­ter pro­tect such sites:

The in­clu­sion of Hoh Xil, a plateau fa­mous for its nat­u­ral beauty and bio­di­ver­sity, and Gu­langyu Is­land, called Ku­langsu in the lo­cal di­alect and known for its well-pre­served his­tor­i­cal build­ings, in the World Her­itage list re­flects the suc­cess of not only the man­age­ments of the two sites, but also the lo­cal gov­ern­ments and peo­ple, be­cause it takes col­lec­tive ef­fort to pre­serve a site. This is some­thing worth cel­e­brat­ing.

But it should be em­pha­sized that UNESCO’s an­nounce­ment is a new be­gin­ning rather than the end for the preser­va­tion of the sites, as the lo­cal gov­ern­ments and man­age­ments, as well as res­i­dents have to take stricter mea­sures for their pro­tec­tion. If the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, espe­cially tourism and cul­tural de­part­ments, and lo­cal en­ter­prises want to con­tinue cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the sites’ pop­u­lar­ity, they have to im­ple­ment global stan­dards to en­sure the flow of

tourists does not cause any dam­age to them.

Be­sides, the two man­age­ments have to be much more trans­par­ent about their pro­tec­tion meth­ods, as me­dia out­lets will now keep a closer eye on them. There­fore, the in­clu­sion of the two sites on the World Her­itage list is only the first step of a gi­ant project.

Ac­tu­ally, the project be­gan when the process to seek World Her­itage sta­tus for the sites was ini­ti­ated, which re­quires the en­tire so­ci­ety’s pledge to pro­tect them. To ap­ply to be en­listed as World Her­itage sites, the two lo­cal gov­ern­ments mo­bi­lized all the re­sources pos­si­ble and ed­u­cated lo­cal res­i­dents about the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing them. And the two man­age­ments have ren­dered ex­cel­lent ser­vice by pre­serv­ing the sites.

Some schol­ars claim it is eco­nomic in­ter­est that prompts lo­cal gov­ern­ments and tourist spot man­age­ments to ap­ply to UNESCO for World Her­itage sta­tus. They say that once a site is in­cluded in the World Her­itage list, the man­age­ments can at­tract more tourists and raise ticket prices, which in turn will raise lo­cal gov­ern- ments’ tax rev­enues. The re­sult­ing boom in the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try also ben­e­fits the lo­cal peo­ple.

Such claims are based on only one part of the story. The in­clu­sion of any site in the World Her­itage list is good news not just for the man­age­ment and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties but also for the econ­omy of the en­tire area. We should not for­get, ei­ther, that China has strict reg­u­la­tions for the tourism in­dus­try, and a scenic spot has to pass through many pro­ce­dures, in­clud­ing pub­lic hear­ings, to raise its ticket prices. In fact, for any site, be­ing in­cluded in the World Her­itage list means recog­ni­tion from the en­tire world, as well as bet­ter pro­tec­tion of its nat­u­ral and/or cul­tural re­sources. A tourist boom is just one of the ben­e­fits.

MA XUEJING / CHINA DAILY

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