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Tour industry enjoys a bumper holiday season

The global financial crisis failed to dampen tourism in China during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday as lower travel costs persuaded people to splash out, according to statistics released by the National Tourism Administration on Saturday.


Nineteen major tourist destinations including Beijing and Shandong Province recorded a more than 15 percent increase in both the number of tourists and revenue during the holiday.


Analysts noted local governments and tourism bureaus sought to attract tourists in an attempt to stimulate consumption during the golden week with measures including cutting ticket prices and lowering prices of travel packages.


"The economic turmoil compelled airlines to cut fuel surcharges, while restaurants and tourist sites provided discounts," said Qi Xinyuan, head of marketing at China International Travel Service.


Beijing received 3.24 million travelers during the holiday, up 20 percent from the same time last year. Revenue hit 2.16 billion yuan (US$316 million), up 32.6 percent year on year.


The festival brought 7.13 million people to the eastern Shandong Province, up 16.3 percent. Tourism revenue totaled 4.58 billion yuan, up 19.6 percent.


The quake-hit Sichuan Province also posted impressive results, with the number of tourists climbing 21.9 percent to about 16.57 million and total revenue up 32.8 percent to 4.73 billion yuan.


Statistics also showed the number of outbound tourists visiting Japan, the Republic of Korea, south Asian countries and Australia increased. However, no specific figures were available for these regions.


With warmer relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, tours to Taiwan were popular. More than 13,000 mainland travelers visited the island during the seven-day holiday.


In 2008 the global tourism market was dragged into a slump by the financial crisis. The number of foreign tourists coming to China fell 6.8 percent to 24.3 million from the previous year.


Nationwide tourism revenue totaled 1.16 trillion yuan last year, up 5.8 percent year on year.


That included 874.9 billion yuan earned from local travelers and 283.9 billion yuan from overseas tourists.


(Xinhua News Agency February 2, 2009)