In order to continuously leverage the brand value of the World Natural Heritage Site and better build an exchange bridge to introduce Wulong to the world, a conference to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Wulong Karst’s successful inclusion into the World Natural Heritage List was held in Wulong District, southwest China’s Chongqing. The conference focuses on the strict protection, continuous inheritance and sustainable utilization of the precious site, according to the Publicity Department of Wulong District, Chongqing Municipality.
Wulong, located in the lower reaches of Wujiang River in the southeast of Chongqing, enjoys convenient transportation such as roads, railways, waterways and civil airports.
In 1994, marked by the opening of Furong Cave to the public, Wulong tourism started to grow. In 2007, the Wulong Karst became the first World Natural Heritage Site in Chongqing. In 2015, it was honored as a model city in sustainable development by the United Nations. In 2008, Wulong started its second entrepreneurial attempt in tourism with the main goal of increasing the total number of tourists and strengthening the tourism economy. At present, Wulong District is a World Natural Heritage Site, a national tourism resort, and a national 5A tourist attraction, among others.
“Wulong has stayed firm in leveraging the natural heritage to empower tourism industry, which provides a local example of transforming and utilizing natural heritage value to improve people’s livelihood,” a senior official of Wulong District said.
Wulong received 40.7 million visits in 2021, 20 times that of 2008, while the overall tourism income reached 19.73 billion yuan, 19.6 times that of 2008. The sustainable development of tourism industry in Wulong has brought great economic, social and ecological benefits, forming a good circular interaction with natural heritage protection.
Yuan Daoxian, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that in the past 15 years, Wulong has undergone sea changes, with impressive social, economic and cultural achievements. These are closely related to the successful inclusion into the World Natural Heritage List and Wulong’s efforts in heritage protection and management.
With the stratification and individuation of tourism consumption demand and the specialization and sophistication of tourism development model, tourism industry has undergone all-round and comprehensive changes. In order to effectively respond to new challenges, in February this year, Wulong District launched the third entrepreneurial attempt in developing local tourism, which focused on going global. The local government has decided to speed up the development of Wulong into a world-renowned tourism destination and a green development innovation demonstration area.
Wulong has developed a plan to help local tourism go global, with 165 cultural tourism projects totaling 140.6 billion yuan in investment value. The plan proposed to build six industrial chains, including research, sports, art, health care, marriage and services, and promote the deep integration of tourism with industry, agriculture, construction and modern services.
The latest tourism development campaign no long just seeks to increase the number of tourists, but to improve the tourism quality and efficiency, so as to achieve common prosperity driven by tourism. Since the implementation, the campaign has achieved noticeable results. From January to May this year, Wulong received 14.85 million visits, up 11.5 percent year on year, and its overall tourism income reached 6.53 billion yuan, up 12.7 percent year on year.
Since the successful inclusion into the World Natural Heritage List, Wulong has made great efforts to make the natural heritage a global fame. The Furong Cave has formed a sister park with the Mammoth Cave in the United States and the Clamouse Cave in France. The Fairy Mountain signed a contract with Swiss Jungfrau and successfully held international and domestic academic conferences such as the 14th national cave academic conference. Wulong has established friendly and cooperative relations with six cities and regions, including Switzerland’s Grindelwald and Italy’s Subiaco, and expanded the circle of friends of international friendship cities. The popularity and influence of Wulong’s karst world natural heritage are constantly expanding.