China's cache of World Heritage sites are under threat from an increase in tourist visits by increasingly mobile Chinese, reports CNN.
China has 43 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list, the most of any other country. Their remoteness once kept tourists at bay, but now that the Chinese have money to travel, they are flocking to locations across the country.
"The idea behind having this status is that there are conservation, preservation and restoration issues, where in China it seems to be primarily geared toward promoting tourism and its economic benefit," Chris Ryan, a professor of tourism at The University of Waikato in New Zealand, told CNN.
The challenge, then, will be to manage tourists so that they bring maximum economic benefit without harming the sites. Corrective measures such as increasing ticket prices have not had much effect. Some sites will now try reducing the number of daily visitors allowed to access a site.
Because Chinese authorities are trying to correct the problem, it's unlikely that any sites will lose their UNESCO designation.
Last month, 160 historical sites, including one World Heritage site, were damaged by heavy rainfall in the Beijing area. The Great Wall, another World Heritage site, is reportedly collapsing due to another man-made threat -- mining. Though, two new parts of the Wall were opened to accommodate heavy tourist flow.
In July, UNESCO added 26 new sites to the World Heritage list, including two in China. One Chinese site was added with the 2011 class of inductees.