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September 18, 2012

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Half-off tickets to scenic spots no big draw

FORTY-TWO local scenic spots offering half-price admission didn't report big crowds yesterday, the first day of a week-long half-price offer.

Hundred-meter-long queues for tickets, common on China Tourism Day on May 19, when the same discount was offered, did not recur yesterday partly because it was a workday and the discount is offered for a longer time this time.

Fears over possible big crowds also pushed away some.

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium and Madame Tussauds, some of the most popular tourist destinations in the city, said they did not witness a big increase in tourists yesterday.

"The number of tourists is about the same as that on Saturday or Sunday," said a security guard of the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium surnamed Shen.

The tower said it had about 12,000 visitors, an increase of about 30 percent compared with that an average Monday.

The Shanghai Tourism Bureau predicted a visitor boom would appear on the weekend.

Only a few spots said they witnessed a surge in visitors. The Happy Valley said it welcomed about 7,000 visitors, an increase of 100 percent over an average Monday.

Meanwhile, tourism authorities' efforts to drive out scalpers in the Lujiazui area didn't immediately go as planned.

Flier distributors hired by illegal travel agencies were still rampant and few tourists bought one-day tours of Shanghai from licensed travel agencies arranged by the Shanghai Tourism Bureau.

Licensed travel agencies began offering one-day tours of Shanghai from the Lujiazui area on Sunday in an effort to push out illegal operators.

There were more than 10 flier distributors outside the Lujiazui Station of Metro Line 2 about 2:30pm yesterday. Some behaved aggressively with passers-by and tourists.

"They are extremely disturbing," complained Ai Dongming, a Shanghainese who accompanied his relatives from Taiwan to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. He fled as he was besieged by several scalpers as he was leaving the Metro station.

None of the five passers-by interviewed randomly yesterday said they knew that licensed travel agencies had started selling packages in the area.

They said they had no idea how to separate legal ones from illegal.

At two of the new tourism service centers, staff members of one said they had sold 10 packages and at the other, seven had been sold by 3:30pm yesterday.

"It is not an easy job to push out scalpers, as they gather again when urban management workers leave," said a staff member surnamed Yu.


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