Saturday September 15, 2012
One big foot for Hubei
The home of Bigfoot in China seeks to boost eco-tourism.
SHENNONGJIA, a forest region and long rumoured to be home of the elusive and “mythical” Bigfoot in the central province of Hubei, China, is looking into developing its eco-tourism to boost the region’s economy.
Less than two months after the Shennongjia Nature Reserve was given a 5A-Class Scenic Spot classification, China’s highest official ranking of scenery spots, the region has teamed up with Beijing to seek its help in developing its tourism industry following an agreement signed between Shennongjia and Beijing municipal commission of tourism development, Xinhua news agency reported.
Travel agencies in Beijing will launch several tour programmes, and the Chinese capital has agreed to provide training for tourism professionals in the underdeveloped region, said Shennongjia forest region party chief Qian Yuankun.
Qian believes an eco-tourism boom is impending in the coming years with Shennongjia’s first airport expected to be completed next year.
Qu Hao, an official with the state-owned Shennong Tourism Company, said Beijing may send chartered flights or trains to Shennongjia during peak seasons as getting to the mountainous region can be challenging.
Located deep in the remote mountains in Hubei, Shennongjia Nature Reserve has long been rumoured to be home of the elusive creature known in China as Yeren or “Wildman” in English. It is often referred to as “Bigfoot” after the legendary North American ape-man.
More than 400 people have claimed sightings of Bigfoot in the Shennongjia region over the last century, but no evidence has been found to prove the creature’s existence. The region is also home to the rare golden monkeys, which are on the verge of extinction and were first spotted in Shennongjia in the 1960s.
Dubbed “Noah’s Arc”, the region provided shelter and protection for animals and plants against glacier activities some 2.5 million years ago.
Shennongjia, with its abundant rain and water resources and a middle-latitude location, is today home to more than 3,700 plant species and some 1,050 animal species. At least 40 plant species and 70 animal species are under key state protection.
Shennongjia was placed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves list in 1990.