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March 20, 2012

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Officials promise better cherry blossom festival

BAOSHAN District authorities will increase the number of volunteers, toilets, parking berths and ticket stalls to improve this year's cherry blossom festival after last year's disorder and tourists' misbehavior.

The cherry blossom festival will kick off on March 30 and run through April 28 in Gucun Park in northern Baoshan District, with a ticket price of 20 yuan (US$3.16).

The cherries will burst into full blossom about April 10, several days later than last year, while people will take a three-day break starting on April 2 as the Qingming Festival, also known as the Clear and Bright Festival, falls on April 4 this year.

The festival is expected to attract a million visitors this year, compared to 700,000 last year, Yan Lilun, director of the Baoshan District Tourism Administration, said yesterday. Officials promised no traffic jams like those of last year, when tens of thousands of people visited during the Qingming break. There were long lines to buy tickets with a limited number of toilets. Some visitors climbed onto the fragile cherry trees, picked flowers or branches and left garbage scattered everywhere.

"We underestimated the number of visitors on the second day of the festival last year that coincided with the Qingming holiday," said Fei Fugen, chief operator of the festival. For last year's Qingming, the cherries were in full bloom. The situation is expected to be better this year, Fei said.

Meanwhile, 200 more volunteers will be on hand to maintain order. Fei said the park can now serve some 150,000 visitors each day, with the peak expected on April 10.

The cherry tree grove covers more than 300,000 square meters. Traditional folk shows, other performances and group dating for young people will be held during the festival.


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