Venice-like tourist city coming up in China

Beijing, May 30 (IANS) China is contemplating building a tourist destination worth 60 billion yuan ($8.8 billion) on the lines of Venice, a city covering over 100 small islands inter-connected by lagoons.

The ‘water-themed’ tourist city in Kaixian county in Chongqing, southwest China, will be about 50 sq km large. It will have a 200-hectare wetland park and a 55,000-sq metre water-themed carnival area.

The attraction would be built near Hanfeng lake, an inland lake created after the start of the Three Gorges Project, Global Times quoted Li Dianxun, the county’s Party chief, as telling the Chongqing Business Daily.

The lake will expand to 14.8 sq km when the tourist project comes up, he said. For this, however, the water level in the Three Gorges Project will have to be raised by at least 175 metres.

The county will provide at least 10 billion yuan ($1.46 billion) and will raise the remaining 50 billion yuan ($7.3 billion) through non-government funds.

A draft for the water-themed city would be completed by July, Jiang Yong, deputy director of the county’s planning bureau, was quoted as saying.

Experts are, however, concerned about the project’s feasibility as well as the fund issue.

Lei Hengshun, a professor at Chongqing University, specializing in the Three Gorges Project, said it is not clear when the water level in the reservoir will rise to 175 metres.

‘The water level of the Three Gorges reservoir has been kept at 172.6 metres for three years and the unstable climate this year is not likely to raise the water level as well, which is the main obstacle to the water-themed plan,’ Lei said.

The plan has also posed environment concerns.

‘The government need to figure out how to maintain the ecological balance in Hanfeng Lake since such an inland lake cannot exchange water with the Yangtze River itself,’ Lei said.

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