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Coupons aim to prosper Nanjing tourism

The city government of Nanjing, eastern Jiangsu province, has decided to give away 20 million-yuan-worth of tourism coupons to urban residents in an effort to spur local consumption.


This is the fourth Chinese city that has introduced free coupons programs as a means to help spur their local consumptions following Hangzhou of Zhejing province, Chengdu of Sichuan province and Dongguan of Guangdong province.


According to Nanjing-based Yangtze Evening Post, each of the 200,000 households in the city will get a 100 yuan worth of coupons, which will be handed out in four months from March to June.


The first group of local families were selected as eligible first to get the coupons on Monday through a lottery, through which each household got its own number to pick up the freebies in one of the four upcoming months.


The coupons, with face values at 10, 20 and 50 yuan respectively, can be used as travel expenses to 37 designated tourism attractions around the city. The coupons sum is required to be less than half of the total payment.


Mu Genglin, vice director of the city's tourism administration, said the coupons are expected to bring a corresponding consumption of as much as 200 million yuan in the local tourism sector.


The government of Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang Province, is reported to further plan another shopping coupon program to cover its civil servants for consumption payments.


Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Zengwei has said the coupon delivery is an efficient method to boost consumption during such a special period of financial crisis, sending a signal from the central government upholding the move that triggered earlier debates over the possibility of unfairness and corruption.


Experts have suggested the government take effective measures to ensure the most disadvantaged groups benefit most from the coupon programs.


(CRI February 17, 2009)