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What's Driving "Heritage" Fever
More Chinese scenic spots are vying for World Heritage status. Their applications will be assessed next year.

The world-famous Stone Forest lies within Lunan County . Owing to the weather-ing process through the millennia there finally came into being a typical karst physiognomy-a most enchanting sight of fantastic stone pillars, and reputed as the "Number One Grand Spectacle on earth".(File photo)

More Chinese scenic spots are vying for World Heritage status. The Five Heavenly Lakes in Heilongjiang and West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province have become the latest to bid for UNESCO recognition. Their applications will be assessed next year. To date, China boasts forty World Heritage sites. While "heritage" enthusiasm seems to be on the rise, experts caution that the commercial motivation behind the applications could undermine the honor.

The World Heritage Committee decided on August 1st this year to include China's Danxia Landforms on the World Heritage List at its 34th meeting.

The recognition has proved a shot in the arm for local tourism near Danxia mountain in Guangdong Province. During this year's May Day holiday droves of visitors flocked in, up 70% from the same period last year.

Local farmers are capitalizing on the bonanza by turning their houses into holiday inns. And they are popular.

Holiday inn owner, said, "All the rooms in my family hotel are almost full every day. Visitors arrive from different places, including Japan and South Korea. "

But if you think the "World Heritage" label spells handsome profits everywhere, you are totally wrong.

Another World Heritage site, Shi Lin, or Stone Forest, in Yunnan Province offers an opposite example. The number of tourists have increased, but the investment that was poured into the expansion of the resort was so big that people there find it hard to make ends meet.

As a matter of fact, in many countries the struggle for such a listing has proved bittersweet. An attempt at heritage status can end up being both a financial and spiritual test.

It cost Guangdong Province 120 million yuan to prepare Danxia mountain for the bid. Most of the money was spent on a facelift for the surrounding area.

The waiting time is long enough to wear anyone's patience out. It took sixteen years for the Stone Forest in Yunnan to finally win a bid.

Experts are calling for a more responsible attitude towards World Heritage status.

While commercial gains can be a sweet byproduct from efforts to protect cultural and natural heritages, the former should not win out over the latter.

Editor:Jessie Huang
Modern Guangzhou Souvenirs picks some of the best Cantonese-style souvenirs for you – including those famous pieces as well as lighter and and comparatively cheap items but still with that defining Cantonese character.

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