A heritage tourism preservation plan for Mogao Grottoes, PR. China
The Mogao Grottoes, also known as the Mogao Caves or the Thousand Buddhas Caves, is located at the southeast of Dunhuang, northwestern China. It is a very important cultural heritage site on the Silk Road and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Mogao Grottoes is a Buddhist shrine with 45,000 square meters of wall paintings and 3,000 sculptures within 492 cave temples from the 4th to 14th centuries; it is also known as the world’s largest existing cave temple with the richest content of Buddhist art. In 1900, the Library Cave was discovered, in which more than 50,000 well-preserved manuscripts, silk paintings, and other relics of important academic research value were. With its long history and profound culture, Mogao Grottoes became a hot tourist destination in China. A growing numbers of visitors, especially in recent years, bring great challenges for heritage preservation and tourism at Mogao. Dunhuang Academy developed a preservation and utilization project in order to cope with this conflict between preservation and tourism, ensure the heritage is well, and develop sustainable tourism. This paper analyzes the current visitor management methods and the risks from visitors and evaluates the proposals for cave carrying capacity, visitor capacity management, visitor flow management, and a visitor center, including the good points of each and the potential problems associated with the caves preservation, site security, and visitors’ experiences. Finally, the paper discusses the overall project and proposes a recommendation for visitor management and developing sustainable tourism at Mogao Grottoes.