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Festival tourism remains hot despite global economy crisis

THE global financial crisis failed to dampen tourism in China during the weeklong the Lunar New Year holiday as lower travel costs persuaded people to spend, the National Tourism Administration said yesterday.

Nineteen major tourism cities including Beijing and Shandong Province recorded a more than 15 percent increase in both the number of tourists and revenue during the holiday from January 25 to 31.

Analysts noted local governments and tourism bureaus sought to attract tourists to stimulate consumption during the golden week. Measures included cutting prices of tickets to tourist attractions and lowering prices of travel packages.

"The economic turmoil compelled airlines to cut charges, while restaurants and tourist sites provided discounts. These contributed to the booming domestic tourism market," said Qi Xinyuan, head of marketing section of China International Travel Service.

Beijing received 3.24 million travelers during the holiday, up 20 percent from the same holiday 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 4.725 billion yuan.

The number of outbound tourists visiting Japan, 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 turned out to be popular, with more than 13,000 mainland travelers visiting the island during the seven-day holiday.

The administration said the tourism boom at the beginning of the country's traditional new year set a good start for the whole year.

In the eventful 2008, global tourism market was dragged into a slump by the financial crisis. China was also affected, with the number of foreign tourists falling 6.8 percent to 24.3 million from the previous year.

Tourism revenue totaled 1.16 trillion yuan last year, up 5.8 percent year-on-year. It included 874.9 billion yuan earned from local travelers and 283.9 billion yuan from overseas tourists. The two figures for 2007 were 777.1 billion yuan and 312.9 billion yuan, respectively.


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