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‘Stone Forest Scenic Area’ a tourist attraction

“Stone Forest” in Shilin Yi Autonomous County, Yunnan province, China is the only Karst wonder situated in the subtropical plateau region in the World with an altitude of 1600-1900 metres. Every year this natural world heritage site and geo park “Stone Forest Scenic Area” attracts millions of travellers both local and international due to its beautiful natural ecological environment specially towering peculiar rocks, flowering waterfalls, attractive natural views and fascinating landscape.

Today, Stone Forest has become one of the most attractive travelling places for discerning travellers across the world and during the period from January -May, 2012 Stone Forest has received over 1.3 million travellers, a 17% increase compared to the same period in the year 2011.

Stone Forest, World Natural Heritage integrates plateau, Karst and subtropical semi humid mountain monsoon climate reflected as multiple ecosystems including ecology of earth mountain, rock mountains and lakes. The ecological beautifulness of Stone Forest is fascinating with mutual complementation of peculiar rocks and xenomorphic vegetation, showing muscular and feminine beautifulness. Even though the Stone Forest Scenic Areas was established in 1931, based on the advantageous karst resources, the formation of early Stone Forest dates back to 270 million years ago, in the Permian period, the place was an ocean with limestone of hundreds of metres in thickness developed by sedimentation at the sea bottom, then with the earth crust rising.

The earliest stone forest was developed by corrosion as the region is on the boarder of the humid and hot ancient beach. With continuous periodical lifting and different geographical and climatic conditions, the landform of stone forest evolved, with the Stone Forest gradually disappearing and the new one successfully developing.

Stone Forest Scenic area has been developed covering a vast area with great momentum, diverse types, rich views with the area over 1,100km2 and the natures reserve area of 350km2 and consists of various natural landscapes, as peculiar rocks, waterfalls, lakes, karst caves forest, Naigu Stone Forest, Changhu Lake, Moon Lake, Dadieshui waterfall and Guishan National Forest Park.

The world class tourism scenic area Stone Forest has become one of the major industries for the national economy of Yunnan province, it has well integrated sightseeing, recreation, vacationing, health improvement, and convention and exhibition and other special features. Today Stone Forest is being developed as a World class sightseeing area and local authorities are aggressively conducting activities on Stone Forest resources, promotion and marketing , Stone Forest brand creations.

Local authorities make efforts to relocate some facilities which had negative effects on sightseeing in the Stone Forest area and has already invested 600 million Yuan in various upgrading projects in 2011. Relocation of Wekeshu village within the park and construction work of the first Yi village, this is a government funded project covering an area of 110,000 square metres, which started in September 2009 and some 390 million Yuan been invested . In 2011, Stone Forest Area, received a tourist arrival of 3.2 million, with an income of RMB 500 million Yuan (one Yuan is equal to Sri Lankan Rs. 21). It has become a leading industry of the Shilin county and the people of the Yi Nationality, autonomous county benefit from this tourism development.

The Stone Forest has been nominated as a National and Worldwide well-known brand for several time in succession. It was enlisted as one of the first Batch of National Key Scenic areas in 1982, National Civilized Scenic Area Model in 1999, National 4A Scenic Area (Spot) in 2001 and finally it was listed among World Heritage list by the UNESCO.

The beautifulness of Stone Forest has attracted and fascinated millions of foreign and domestic travellers every year becoming one of the major foreign exchange earners in the Yunnan province, China.

In 2005, 2.217 million tourists had visited the Stone Forest Area, with an income of RMB 184 million Yuan.

In 2010 tourism arrivals to Stone Forest increased upto 2.90 million generating an income worth of RMB 420 million Yuan, whilst Stone Forest received 3.2 million tourists in 2011 with an income of RMB 500 million Yuan.

Stone Forest is being developed as a world class scenic area, with the building of international tourist resorts. Stone Forest future projects include scenic area reconstruction, tourism transformation, tourism and culture blending, scenic areas upgrading and enlarging.

Plans are on to develop Stone Forest Area into AAAAA-level Scenic and a model sightseeing place, and World Natural Heritage Model Demonstration site, realizing the objective of primarily constructing the scenic area into an international tourist resort. This attraction is now available for Sri Lankan tourists as well.

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