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Last Updated: February 21, 2006

Give local villagers pride in their culture and raise awareness about sustainable tourism at the local, private and governmental levels

SICHUAN AND TIBETAN AUTONOMOUS REGION

Beginning: June 2003

With the exception of the Qiang towers, none the towers still standing in this region have been used in hundreds of years. They all are located in remote areas where agriculture is the primary source of living for the villagers. Every house is built out of stones, therefore, as soon as a tower starts collapsing, it is often dismantled by the local people who then rapidly put both the land and the stones to better use.

In 2008 an airport will open in Dagong, near Kangding, putting most of the towers only a few hours away Chengdu, and less than a day away from Beijing. Better roads and bridges are being built by the Chinese government, rapidly making these areas more accessible to mass tourism and new fashions.

Some newly built “traditional” houses now include many Chinese characteristics (pagoda style roof, ceramics etc). In some places, in a worthy effort to save wood, the traditional roofs (made of wood planks secured in place by stones) are being replaced by corrugated aluminum painted bright blue or red! While taking in consideration their natural desire for better living conditions, it is urgent to give the local villagers pride in their culture. It is essential to raise consciousness among the local residents and governments that the protection of the authenticity of the towers and their buffer zone will fruit vital long-term benefits via a nurturing sustainable tourism. Travel agencies and travel guides need to be educated about sustainable and "eco" tourism.

It is also urgent to prepare the future generation to grasp the benefits and the risks of globalization.

To remedy to these problems, we envision the following:

I- Creation of “Captain Planet” rooms (in schools) and of “Captain Planet Centers” (in villages) where the “Captain Planet” tapes, and other educational material produce by the UNESCO and other international NGOs, will be shown.

In the villages, the Captain Planet Centers will be true educational centers with a library offering a variety of books and, when ever possible, access to the internet. Tapes and CD could be watch individually on the computer or collectively in the meeting room where work-shops will also be held.
In certain cases these centers will also be used as Information Centers for tourists.
Certain Centers will also include a small museum of the local culture and a shop where new local artifacts could be purchased..
When ever possible these centers should be built in local traditional style.
 
  Captain Planet with Ted Turner
and Frederique in 2002
Click here for Captain Planet Web page


--Captain Planet in muto village, Mao county, Sichuan province

Mao county is an area of Western Sichuan where minorities live together, more than 80% people are Qiang. Muto village is the sample of this county in constructing eco-agriculture andtourism. This village stores an old Qiang House to turn it into a Captain Planet /Tourist Information Center. It will include a library offering a variety of books (and, if possible, access to the internet) as well a meeting/video room where work-shops will be held, a small museum about the Qiang Culture and a small shop where tourists will be able to buy books and handicrafts.


--Program in cooperation with Wilderness Expertise. UK

Wilderness Expertise is a for–profit tour manager that, as a part of teen- trips to developing countries, includes a few days of volunteer work to help local communities. In 2004 two groups of English teenagers came to paint murals in the Pujiaoding and Heihu schools. Each group, which consisted of 14 teenagers and three teachers, also raised about $US 2000 for the schools. The funds will help pay the tuition for the poorest students.

The teenagers also played with the local children and taught them a few English words. On their departure, the Pujiaoding head master was on the verge of crying as he was thanking us.

In 2005, two groups of English Volunteers went to Maertang Central Elementary School of Li An village of Puge county (Liangshan Zhou) and one group to Moto (Maoxian). Each group was accompanied by Unicorn Foundation Volunteers and carry on Friendship summer camps of environmental protection.
Once back in England, these groups also raised funds which were given to the school

 

The group of teen-agers and their murals at Pujioading School
  Installing the new computers in Heifu school

II- Enlist the cooperation of the media: television, newspapers and travel magazines (as China Magazine) through ecologically oriented articles to raise awareness about sustainable and eco-tourism in the general public and to create a demand for such tourism.Every other month Frederique writes a Column about such topics in the First Class Magazine

Click here for the First Class Column

III-Hold Forums and work-shops about sustainable tourism,make available, for free, training tapes to the travel agencies and the local communities without Captain Planet centers
Extensive information about ecotourism is also available ( although in English only), on the web site of the non-profit Australian organization “Ecotourism Australia”. The President, Clare McFarlane, is open to suggestions on how to help.

Click here for their website