Ever-increasing visitor numbers have prompted authorities in Beijing to ready more sections of the Great Wall of China for tourists.
The capital plans to add the Huanghuacheng and Hefangkou sections of the Wall to the existing four parts of the fortification open to the public following necessary repairs and renovations.
Beijing Cultural Relics Bureau (BCRB) chief Kong Fanzhi said the already opened Mutianyu and Badaling sections of the Great Wall would also be extended to cater for burgeoning visitor numbers, China Daily reported.
Mr Kong said the initiatives aimed to “better protect” the Great Wall by “diverting visitors and reducing the load” on the parts of the fortification currently open to tourists.
According to the bureau chief, Beijing has invested millions of yuan into the repair of the Wall, which he says is buckling under the weight of mass domestic and international tourism, particularly on weekends and during holidays.
Making matters worse, a rising number of tourists are climbing parts of the Great Wall closed off to the public, causing further damage to the Chinese icon.
Despite this burden, BCRB Department of Preservation director Wang Yuwei said most of the 60 kilometers of the Great Wall in the capital had been kept in “good condition”.
No date has been set for the opening of the new sections, the bureau said.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the Great Wall of China is nearly two and a half times the length it was widely believed to have been.
According to local media, in its recent survey report, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage deemed the wall to be 21,296 kilometres (13,233 miles) – much longer than the previously estimated 8,852 kilometres (5,500 miles).
Yan Jianmin, office director of the China Great Wall Society, said the sizable discrepancy had arisen as previous estimations had only referred to Great Walls built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
“But this new measure includes Great Walls built in all dynasties,” he said.
In related news, archaeologists working on the latest dig at the site of the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an have said the project has unearthed more than 300 important artefacts including tools, weapons, parts of chariots, twelve pottery horses and most notably, around 120 more warriors.
The third dig to take place in the museum’s number one pit in Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi province, began in 2009.