Beijing's five UNESCO world heritage sites are now short of a staggering 3.2 billion yuan or 320 million U.S. dollars for much needed preservation work.
The five sites°™the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs and the Great Wall°™are all hoping to undergo major renovations before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Damaged by time and exposure to the elements, the ancient structures are in need of constant maintenance.
The Summer Palace, for example, is mostly made of wood and requires small-scale maintenance projects every 5 years and major reconstruction every 10 years. The Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City are also facing the same problem.
Currently, all five world heritage sites rely on ticket revenue to support maintenance costs. Making up about 80 percent of total profits, the sum is by no means enough to facilitate the much needed work.
Part of the problem can be attributed to poor financial management. Additionally, different sites belong to different governmental organizations and some are required to pay government departments a lump sum every year.
In order to reduce financial burdens, all five Beijing world heritage sites have chosen to raise ticket prices by 6 to 230 percent.
Public feedback was, however, disappointing. Many disapproved of the price hike and called for a better management system, improved laws to protect World Heritage Sites, and more government transparency.
Editor: Chu Daye