HK favorite tourist spot loses sparkle

Top News | Sum Lok-kei 11 Aug 2017

Hongkongers may not be able to flock to Jiuzhaigou city this fall after the earthquake destroyed many of its tourist attractions.

Travel Industry Council chairman Jason Wong Chun-tat said every fall Jiuzhaigou attracts more than 100 Hong Kong group tours as its lake areas are usually adorned with yellow and red leaves.

But the number this year may drop drastically depending on restoration efforts.

"We need to closely monitor the situation and the recovery progress of tourist attractions before restarting tour groups to Jiuzhaigou," he said.

The council was told that so far 24 tour groups involving over 400 tourists had been canceled or suspended.

Sunflower Travel Services general manager Johnny So Tsz-yueng said he is not optimistic about restarting the tours in September and October and expects a drop in sign-ups for tours.

"The facilities at most of Jiuzhaigou's tourist attractions are wooden. If they have collapsed, I don't expect them to be rebuilt in a short period of time," So said on a radio program.

Facilities including footbridges that connect attractions in Jiuzhaigou were essential to the experience, he explained.

So said local authorities are still reviewing the damage, but as far as he knows, it is "quite serious."

The water of usually colorful pools had turned gray and muddy, he added.

For the time being, his company will not send tour groups to the area. He said a private tour group led by Sunflower evacuated the area on Wednesday by coach.

After a seven-hour journey, the tourists arrived in Chengdu unharmed and continued their journey there.

Two tour groups led by Wing On and Sunflower were expected to return to Hong Kong today.

Sichuan authorities reported that at least six major attractions in Jiuzhaigou were damaged, most at Sparkle Lake.

The lake got its name from the reflection of sunlight on its water, resembling sparks.

Authorities said a 50-meter-long, 12-meter-deep and 20-meter-wide gap was found at the lake after the earthquake though the water levels did not change significantly.

However, pictures taken after the disaster show the lake's water to be muddy and opaque.

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