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May 20, 2013

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Discounts draw big crowds at scenic spots

HUGE crowds turned up at scenic spots across the city yesterday as they offered half price admission for China Tourism Day, but the special offer created complaints about traffic congestion, overcrowding and lower service levels.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower said 25,000 people had turned up by 4pm, the most ever on days when it offers a 50 percent discount on tickets.

About 1:30pm, there were two queues at Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. One was nearly 70 meters long. Some visitors who queued outside in the morning said they waited for more than two hours for a ticket.

As of 3pm, Happy Valley amusement park had more than 22,500 visitors, while Shanghai Wildlife Park had 26,000, and Fengjing Ancient Town had 21,000, all double their average Sunday attendance figures.

It was the third straight year the offer has been available at major tourist attractions across China.

Fifty-one attractions took part in Shanghai yesterday to mark China Tourism Day. The scheme was created following complaints that scenic spots are overpriced.

Not all tourists were impressed with the offer.

A woman from Hubei Province surnamed Liu who lives in the city said she had been waiting at Oriental Pearl TV Tower for more than an hour.

There were still dozens of people in front of her.

"Shanghai's scenic spots cost more compared with those elsewhere in China and such an offer should take place once a month," said Liu, who was with her seven-year-old daughter.

Her complaints did not stop.

"I thought all ticket packages should be half price today, but I was told a 220 yuan (US$35.48) ticket to tour three observatory decks (including the newly decorated "space capsule" on the highest deck) is not included, forcing me to give up my original plan," she said disappointedly.

At Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, several people were seen jumping the queue, drawing complaints from those toward the back on the line.

A law enforcement team member surnamed Zhang was in Lujiazui area, where several attractions are located, as an additional 30 police officers - up from the usual 50 - were patrolling the streets yesterday.

"If we don't direct traffic today, it would be terrible," he said, staring at crowds of people rushing to Oriental Pearl TV Tower after exiting Lujiazui Metro Station.

Zhang estimated the volume of people in the Lujiazui area at 600,000 to 700,000 yesterday, almost equal to the numbers seen during the National Day holiday.

"Parking space has long been a headache around here, and the situation is considerably worse today," Zhang said.

"It is not good to have just one half-price day, it should be more regular because it creates huge pressure on traffic and affects the quality of a tour as venues are overcrowded," he said.

The city's tourism bureau said earlier they are considering offering regular discounts on a fixed day each week. But there has been nothing concrete to indicate this will happen.

Guo Yifeng, deputy general manager of Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower Co, which manages Oriental Pearl TV Tower, said regular discounts could disrupt the market and companies in the industry don't support the idea.


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