Three Gorges Probe
Gorges official slaps tour scare stories
Xinhua news agency
February 14, 2006
Tourists do not need to hurry to visit the Three Gorges dam area because ‚Äúthe rising water level will only add to the beauty of that section of the river,‚Äù Xinhua news agency quotes a tourism official as saying.
Tourists do not need to hurry to visit the Yangtze River because the Three Gorges dam being built there will not destroy its charm, a tourism official said on Monday. Du Yunsheng — director of the tourism bureau in Hubei Province, where the dam is located — said: "The rising water level will only add to the beauty of that section of the river, so there is no need to rush there as advocated by some travel agents.” Du criticized some local tour agents, who had claimed that the charm of the Three Gorges will disappear once the dam starts to check the water flow in November. Tour operators in the Three Gorges area made big profits in 1997 when a coffer dam was completed there. Tens of thousands of tourists were urged by tour operators to "say good-bye to the gorges.” Later, the local tourism industry plunged into a depression as people thought the sightseeing spots had disappeared. The local industry did not recover until the year 2000. However, as construction of the dam enters a new phase, some travel agents are making similar claims to attract tourists. According to industry sources, the 30 or so luxury tourist boats for the Three Gorges tours up to January 2003 are fully booked. Du warned that such a promotional tactic was not being responsible to tourists and their interests and rights. According to authoritative institutions responsible for planning the Three Gorges water-conservation project, including the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee and Beijing’s Tsinghua University, the Three Gorges will keep their majestic charm after the dam is completed. Moreover, both the dam and the huge reservoir will become new attractions in the area. In addition, scenic spots currently hidden deep in the surrounding mountains will be made more accessible, Du said.