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Sichuan remembers May 12th, 2008, but looks to the future

Sichuan remembers May 12th, 2008, but looks to the future

The National Tourism Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNTA), together with the Provincial Government of Sichuan, has officially opened the 2011 Sichuan International Tourism Festival, 2011 with a formal ceremony held at the town of Shuimo in Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province.

The launch and opening were attended by 600 guests from various organisations and companies from some 60 countries and regions. Guests included delegates from the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Running until May 15th, 2011 this international tourism festival commemorates the devastation caused by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the province of Sichuan at 2:28pm China local time on May 12th, 2008 with devastating consequences to both life and property.

In responding to this tragedy, the Party Central Committee and the State Council mobilised the entire country to assist the people and communities of Sichuan to recover from this natural disaster.

With support from the Central Government, the Sichuan Provincial Government, and the domestic and international community at large, reconstruction and infrastructure projects were carried out in the earthquake-hit areas. A total of 18 provinces and cities offered one-to-one assistance, and 11 international rescue teams came to Sichuan’s aid.

Three years after the earthquake, Sichuan has emerged with massive reconstruction and infrastructure developments, new attractions, tourist products, and other tourism-related businesses. In 2010, the province made history as it realised CNY188-billion in income, surpassing that earned before the earthquake, and exceeding the provincial government’s targets.

By the end of this year Sichuan province is expected to have welcomed 290-million visitors, and received some CNY210-billion in tourism-related receipts.

Said John Koldowski, deputy chief executive and head of Office of Strategy Management, PATA, who attended the opening of the festival: “The redevelopment of the devastated towns is something that must be seen to be believed.

“In just three years they have emerged from rubble and ruin to create a whole new beginning for the citizens of the affected areas.

“Significantly it is travel and tourism that is driving this new future for many of these people and in a way that not only celebrates their different cultures and lifestyles but which also enhances their strong sense of pride in their respective communities.”