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Beijing sees record festival tourists

Beijing received a record number of tourists who spent more than ever during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday.

 

The municipal tourism authority said yesterday it handled 3.24 million domestic tourists from Jan 25-31, up 20 percent on last year, and gained 2.155 billion yuan ($314 million) of income, up 32 percent.

 

Passengers wait to enter the subway station outside the Beijing railway station in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 9, 2009. China's railways would undergo the second post-festival travel peak since Monday which was also the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) said.[Xinhua/Xing Guangli]

Passengers wait to enter the subway station outside the Beijing railway station in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 9, 2009. China's railways would undergo the second post-festival travel peak since Monday which was also the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) said.[Xinhua/Xing Guangli]

"It is a very good start for us in the Year of Ox," Yu Debin, deputy director of the tourism administration, said.

 

The boom was due to the city's unprecedented promotion of tourism - 50,000 tickets to scenic spots were given away free and hotels slashed room rates, Zhang Huiguang, head of the administration, said.

 

The promotions attracted 830,000 tourists from outside Beijing, up 28 percent on last year, and they spent a record 1.714 billion yuan, Zhang said.

 

Temple fairs, Olympic venues and ski slopes were among the most popular attractions.

 

The temple fair at Ditan Park was said to be the most popular of Beijing's seven temple fairs. It received more than 1.2 million people in eight days, up 20 percent.

 

Beijinger Zhang Tingting said this year's temple fairs were distinctive.

 

"All the popular snacks were gathered in one place and folk artists showed off their talent. You just feel thrilled in the festive atmosphere," she said.

 

Zhang visited three temple fairs with her family. At one of them she spent more than 300 yuan on snacks and gifts.

 

The Olympic Park received more than 1 million visitors over the week.

 

Passengers walk out of the Beijing railway station in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 9, 2009. China's railways would undergo the second post-festival travel peak since Monday which was also the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) said. [Xinhua/Xing Guangli]

Passengers walk out of the Beijing railway station in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 9, 2009. China's railways would undergo the second post-festival travel peak since Monday which was also the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) said. [Xinhua/Xing Guangli]

Zhang of the Beijing tourism administration said more measures are being considered to boost tourism.

 

These include laying on free tour buses across the city and removing expressway tolls for tour buses, she said.

 

The boom has prompted a call for the resumption of the weeklong May Day holiday, which was shortened to three days last year.

 

A survey by Sohu.com showed that 92 percent of the 111,000 respondents said they wanted the May Day golden holiday to return.

 

Nationwide, some 109 million people made domestic trips during Spring Festival, up 25 percent on last year, the national tourism administration said in a report last week.

 

That resulted in a 23 percent jump in tourism revenue, to 51 billion yuan, during the weeklong holiday.

 

The report said 172 restaurants in 39 cities earned 580 million yuan in the week, up 12 percent from a year ago.

 

The figures for inbound visitors are not yet available.

 

(China Daily February 10, 2009)