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Many ripples from airport

LIJIAN, China — Can there be any doubt about the way that transportation, even if in the name of eco-tourism, can transform a region environmentally and culturally?

The New York Times tells about a recent jump in tourism to Lijian, China. Until the mid-1990s, this region of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain saw only a trickle of backpackers, those willing to take a three-day bus trip. The trickle became a flood after 1995, when an airport was opened with direct flights to several Chinese cities.

Locals customs have been affected by this influx, says The Times. For example, with swelled demand, some of the locals are willing to risk fines to log local forests, so that they can build bigger homes. The old culture was that only the big trees could be cut, and the small ones must be protected. The Times suggested that an eco-lodge that the writer stayed in was exempt from the process of ramped-up consumption.