Tourism cash helps people of Wenchuan rebuild after quake

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 May, 2010, 12:00am

Tourism has become the major source of income for Wenchuan county, the epicentre of the devastating earthquake two years ago yesterday in Sichuan, and local authorities hope to make it a pillar industry to support residents' daily lives in the future.

Zhu Yaozhong, the acting deputy county head, told a press conference in Guangzhou on Tuesday that of all the county's economic indicators last year, the service industry, which mainly relies on tourism, was the only one that rose since 2007.

Without giving specific figures, Zhu - also the deputy director of the Development and Reform Commission of Guangdong, the province selected by the State Council to help with the rebuilding of Wenchuan - said the fast-growing tourism revenue reflected the key role the industry is playing in supporting reconstruction in the worst-affected areas.

'It showed tourism had contributed the most to Wenchuan, and we think it might become a well-known place for international tourism in the future,' he added.

According to the Wenchuan Tourism Bureau, more than 30,000 tourists visited the county and spent about 8.2 million yuan (HK$9.3 million) during the Labour Day holiday on May 1-3. This was a dramatic increase when compared with the figures for the same period in 2007.

Zhu said that most of the 'hardware rebuilding' work was over, and they now faced the challenge of rebuilding local residents' lives.

Creating job opportunities for residents will be the top priority.

Besides boosting tourism, Guangdong planners are also working on attracting manufacturers to invest in the area.

Chen Maohui , deputy secretary general of the Guangdong provincial government and acting deputy Communist Party secretary of Wenchuan, said it was hoped that two industry zones under construction - one in Wenchuan's Xuankou, and the other in the suburbs of provincial capital Chengdu - could provide 20,000 jobs to the county.

According to the statement by the Guangdong government, eight enterprises from Sichuan, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Taiwan promised to invest 2.3 billion yuan in the Guangdong-Wenchuan Industrial Zone in Chengdu. These companies have been told that their factories should be ready to start operation by the end of this year.

Chen added that some Guangdong-based companies would launch a job fair soon offering about 4,000 posts to Wenchuan residents.

By the end of last month, nearly 88 per cent of the 702 projects Guangdong was helping to build in Wenchuan had been completed, the statement released yesterday said. The province alone has invested 8.2 billion yuan in the county's reconstruction.