Quake a blow to tourism work­ers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu huangzhiling@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

While mourn­ing the dead and tend­ing to the in­jured con­tin­ues af­ter this week’s mag­ni­tude 7.0 earth­quake in Sichuan province, author­i­ties are say­ing that the area’s scenic wonders and the lo­cal econ­omy also are vic­tims of the nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, cen­tered in scenic Ji­uzhaigou.

Twenty-four peo­ple died as a re­sult of the Tues­day night earth­quake and 493 peo­ple were in­jured, in­clud­ing about 45 se­ri­ously wounded, pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials said on Fri­day.

Two days later, the fa­mous Nuo­ri­lang Wa­ter­falls in Ji­uzhaigou col­lapsed.

Nuo­ri­lang, with a height of 24.5 me­ters and width of 270 me­ters, was China’s widest wa­ter­fall and also was cho­sen by ne­ti­zens as one of China’s most spec­tac­u­lar. Ji­uzhaigou Val­ley is a UNESCO World Her­itage Site.

Li Lin, a guide in the Ji­uzhaigou area, said he re­al­ized how bad the quake was when he heard that a young cou­ple from Wuhan, Hubei province, were crushed by fall­ing stones.

“The Wenchuan earth­quake (also in Sichuan, in 2008) did not wreak havoc here. But this time, many peo­ple will re­mem­ber the tragedy of the cou­ple and cringe at the thought of vis­it­ing Ji­uzhaigou,” said Li, a mid­dle-aged guide who has worked in Ji­uzhaigou for 12 years.

As the cou­ple from Wuhan were ap­proach­ing a ho­tel in the area, fall­ing rocks smashed their car. The wife died in­stantly and the hus­band man­aged to push their daugh­ter, a sixth-grader, out of a win­dow be­fore he died, lo­cal me­dia re­ported.

On Wed­nes­day, the man­age­ment com­mit­tee of Ji­uzhaigou an­nounced it would tem­po­rar­ily close the scenic spot. By Fri­day, all 61,500 tourists in Ji­uzhaigou had left for home, of­fi­cials said.

“The earth­quake is a heavy blow to Sichuan tourism since tourists won’t come to Ji­uzhaigou this year,” said an of­fi­cial from the Sichuan Pro­vin­cial Tourism De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion who asked not to be named.

It will take time for tourism to re­bound, as in the case of the Wenchuan earth­quake, which killed over 80,000, he said. “Af­ter the Wenchuan earth­quake, fewer tourists vis­ited Sichuan in the lat­ter half of 2008. But as peo­ple for­got the quake the next year, the num­ber of tourists grad­u­ally rose.”

Dur­ing the seven-day Na­tional Day hol­i­day run­ning from Oct 1 to 7 last year, Ji­uzhaigou was so packed with tourists each day that its ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mit­tee had to limit the num­ber en­ter­ing the scenic spot.

In 2016, Sichuan’s tourism earn­ings sur­passed 770 bil­lion yuan ($115.5 bil­lion), more than 800 mil­lion yuan of which came from Ji­uzhaigou, ac­cord­ing to the Sichuan tourism com­mis­sion.

ZHANG LANG / CHINA NEWS SER­VICE

Earth­quake vic­tims

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