|JIANYANG, Sichuan, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Officials in southwest China's Sichuan Province, where the massive Wenchuan earthquake left more than 87,000 people dead or missing and more than 374,640 injured last year, said Saturday they will open some quake relics to tourists.
"There is a huge tourism market in the ruins one year after the quake. Lots of people have been coming to visit the quake zone, especially during the Spring Festival, the Tomb-sweeping Festival and the May Day holiday," said Wu Mian, deputy director of Sichuan Provincial Tourism Department, said in an interview with Xinhua Saturday.
"We cannot block the tourists out," he said. "We also hope the tourists watch their behaviors and not hurt the quake survivors' feelings."
The first relics to open include the devastated tourist sites, schools, bridges, factories and streets in cities of Dujiangyan, Pengzhou, Mianzhu and Guangyuan as well as Yingxiu Township in Wenchuan County, the epicenter, he said.
He did not specify when the relics would be open.
The Donghekou Earthquake Relics Park, the first memorial park dedicated to the quake, has welcomed more than 260,000 domestic and overseas tourists since it was open on Nov. 12.
The park contains the ruins of Donghekou Village, where all but300 of more than 1,400 villagers died in a landslide triggered by the earthquake.
The list of locations to be opened to tourists did not contain Beichuan County. The old county seat was only open to former residents to mourn their families during the Tomb-sweeping Festival and the quake's first anniversary.
Dampened by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake, Sichuan's travel industry earned 109 billion yuan last year, down 10 percent against 2007, according to statistics from the National Tourism Administration.
The market begins to revive this year thanks to tourism promotion efforts, with a 12 percent year-on-year increase in the income for the first quarter. The province welcomes nearly 73 million tourists in the first four months.
The tourism income in Sichuan is expected to reach 120 billion yuan (17.5 billion U.S. dollars) this year which is equal to the figure before the quake, the administration said.
Source: Xinhua News