UNESCO-listed limestone attraction may be permanently damaged after tourists hopped over the fence to stand on it in China
- Group of unruly visitors broke into the limestone terraces in Sichuan, China
- Footage shows a dozen or so people standing on the protected site last week
- Experts warn part of the formations might have been damaged beyond repair
- The park is yet to confirm the degree of the damage amid an ongoing probe
A limestone attraction inside a UNESCO-recognised scenic spot in China may have been permanently damaged after a group of tourists hopped over the fence to walk on it.
Footage released by the Chinese state broadcaster shows around a dozen visitors standing on the protected site formed by a type of limestone called travertine.
Experts have warned that travertine formations are incredibly fragile, and part of the beauty spot is likely to have been damaged beyond repair by the travellers’ unruly behaviour.
Footage released by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV (left) shows around a dozen visitors standing on the Huanglong travertine pools, part of a UNESCO world heritage site (right)
The tourists ignored the ‘no entry’ signs and barged into the protected area at around 4.30pm last Wednesday, according to the management of the Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area in south-western China’s Sichuan Province.
The Huanglong scenic spot was enlisted by the UNESCO in 1992, and the travertine formations, covering five acres (21,000 square metres) in the form of 693 bright pools, are the most famous part of it.
The terraced, blue-hued ponds, stacking upon one another 3,576 metres (11,732 feet) above sea level, are formed by calcium carbonate deposits in hot springs.
It has taken some 10,000 years for them to come into being, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
Li Dehua, a deputy director of the Provincial Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources of Sichuan, told the official channel that the formation of the geological phenomenon could be as slow as less than one millimetre a year.
He added that travertine formations could be easily broken under the weight of a person and the damage would be nearly impossible to repair.
‘Basically, it is irreversible,’ Li said.
The tourists ignored the ‘no entry’ signs and barged into the protected area at around 4.30pm last Wednesday, according to the Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area in Sichuan
The Huanglong scenic spot was enlisted by the UNESCO in 1992, and the travertine formations, covering five acres in the form of 693 bright pools, are the most famous part of it
The Huanglong scenic spot said the tourists were spotted by a park ranger who was patrolling some 100 metres (328 feet) away from the group.
The worker immediately ordered them to leave the protected area and resume their tour following a designated route, according to a social media statement.
The scenic spot said it was carrying out further investigations.
It remains unclear whether or not the limestone formations were damaged or how much damage they sustained.
The visitors in question could face severe punishment from the Chinese tourism authority for their reckless actions.
The China National Tourist Office in 2015 introduced a law to penalise ‘uncivilised’ tourists.
Offending individuals will be named and shamed by a nationwide tourism blacklist for up to two years.
They will also see their actions recorded by China’s social credit system, which can ban them from carrying out a series of life activities, from taking planes and bullet trains to buying houses.