Kungfu shrine plans tourism scheme

March 15th, 2009 - 8:55 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, March 15 (Xinhua) China’s Shaolin Temple, the legendary kungfu shrine, is planning a tourism project.
The project is aimed to inspire confidence in people struggling in the prevailing financial crisis, through “perception of Zen’s wisdom and power”, said Shi Yongxin, the abbot.

“The plan is to let tourists have a taste of living as followers of Zen Buddhism,” said Shi, “and people can come to meditate sitting crosslegged and eat vegetables only like other monks.”

The financial crisis has not impacted people’s spending on culture and tourism, he told Xinhua on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislative body.

The number of visitors was unaffected and even increased by about 10 percent since the unfolding of the crisis, according to Shi, also an NPC deputy.

The 1,500-year-old Shaolin Temple in China’s central province of Henan on average receives over two million tourists every year.

“Shaolin Kong Fu can make people physically stronger, and living the life of Zen followers can lead them to the perception of Zen’s wisdom,” he said; “such practices are both very popular among tourists.”

The famed Shaolin temple has been frequently in the media spotlight, as the temple developed business ventures include kungfu shows, film production and online selling.

The latest commercial move of Shi is to open franchised “offshoot” outside Henan province, such as in southwest China’s Yunnan province.

Shi said the temple is also planning to open a branch in Hong Kong, in a move to promote the Shaolin Kungfu and Chinese culture globally.

His undertakings aroused controversy among the Chinese public. Some accused him of running Shaolin like a business, giving him the nickname of the “CEO monk”.

Others said it is a good way to develop Shaolin in such a brand-oriented society as commercialised operation helps protect and further spread Chinese kungfu.

The Shaolin temple has so far set up 28 overseas centres in Britain, France, Germany, Australia and other countries to promote Shaolin kungfu and Chinese culture.

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