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Beichuan unveils big tourism plan

updated: 2008-10-13

Beichuan, one of the counties in Sichuan province most devastated by the May 12 earthquake, has formulated an ambitious 19.7 billion yuan ($2.89 billion) tourism restoration plan, local officials said.

 A lynchpin of the plan is transforming the province into an internationally renowned destination for travelers to learn about the Qiang and Dayu ethnic minorities' cultures within three to five years.

 It will also reinvent its former county seat into a national earthquake museum, Zhang Gu, head of the Sichuan provincial tourism bureau, said yesterday.

The museum will feature a quake-relief training center, a quake-escape training center, a wall memorializing those who died in the quake and a monument dedicated to those who assisted local quake relief, according to the plan.

The plan also designates the new county seat as the site for restoring Qiang culture.

Beichuan, which is traversed by the Jianjiang River, consists of an old county seat in the southwest and a new county seat in the northeast. Of the 70,000 who died in the quake, more than 10,000 were from Beichuan.

The quake razed 80 percent of the buildings in the old county seat and 60 percent in the new one.

Beichuan is the country's only Qiang autonomous county. It was home to about 300,000 Qiang people prior to the quake, but about 10 percent of them died in the disaster.

The ethnic group is known for dwelling in stone towers that resemble military outposts and for worshiping the goat - revered as the god of food and clothing.

Beichuan is best known as the birthplace of Dayu, the legendary founder of the Xia Dynasty (c.21st century-16th century BC), who is venerated for controlling rampant floods. Beichuan built the first Dayu Memorial Hall in 1991 for the site of many Dayu ruins.