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For Immediate Release
(San Francisco) A global coalition of travelers is extending thanks to the Chinese government for suspending planned construction of a highway around Tibet’s sacred Mt. Kailash.
For months, letters from the Ethical Traveler coalition had urged China not to build a road in this important region. This month, the Chinese government announced its decision to forego road construction.
Letters from Ethical Traveler members continue to be sent to the Chinese government. The campaign’s new goal is to express regard for the unspoiled mountain and to specifically encourage Kailash’s nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Permanent protection for the region can be gained by having Kailash and Manasarovar designated as a World Heritage Site. As a “site of outstanding universal value,” Kailash would be protected from intrusive changes and cultural destruction. Only the Chinese government can request this nomination.
Founder and director of Ethical Traveler Jeff Greenwald explains that “building a road around the sacred mountain would dilute its spiritual impact, despoil its natural environment, and shatter its ancient serenity.” Himself a visitor to the region in 2002, Greenwald recalls “thousands of pilgrims…had come from all over Tibet and the Indian subcontinent to fulfill their religious aspirations.”
The proposed motor road had been part of the Chinese government’s plan to increase tourism in Tibet’s remote western region. Many westerners, including mountain guides and tour agents, believe the draw to visit this revered place would be diminished by a road that paves over spiritual footpaths and disrupts tradition.
“If people wish to circle Kailash, let them do so in the ancient, traditional, and respectful way: on foot,” says Greenwald. “Circling the mountain by foot, and visiting its hundreds of holy and mythical sites, is an arduous act that brings merit to all beings.”
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