SEOUL The South Korean government on Wednesday finalized an $17.9 billion blueprint to create an "ecological tourism belt" in regions near the border with North Korea by 2030, local media reported.
The blueprint fleshed out a plan to turn the areas near the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), a 4-km (2.5 mile) wide swathe of land serving as a buffer between the two Koreas since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, into tourist attractions, Yonhap news agency said.
Areas near the DMZ are rich in flora and fauna as development has been restricted.
The plan calls for the DMZ area to be designated as a biosphere zone by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to preserve biodiversity and promote sustainable use of the area that is home to a variety of rare species.
The plan also includes establishing trekking and bicycle paths in an effort to promote environment-friendly tourism as well as hosting college research centers and establishing a renewable energy complex, Yonhap quoted officials as saying.
(Reporting by Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Alex Richardson)