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August 17, 2010

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Agencies draw flak for tours to Sichuan

TOURISTS have begun questioning the wisdom of travel agencies in continuing to send tour groups to Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan Province despite rainstorms and landslides hitting the area lately.

Travel agencies said as of yesterday, the country's tourism authorities had not ordered the suspension of Sichuan-bound group travel, thus all they could do was remind tourists of local weather conditions before they set off. If tourists wanted, they would postpone the packages or adjust the itineraries for them.

More than 30 Shanghai tourists were stranded in Jiuzhaigou, one of China's most popular summer scenic sites, over the weekend as traffic was cut off by a mudslide.

However, with help from local police, the tourists had started setting off for home yesterday after emergency repairs to the roads. They would fly back to Shanghai today via Lanzhou, Gansu Province, said Spring International Travel Service Co Ltd, the concerned travel agency.

Meanwhile, tourists who are now planning their summer holidays are still worried about safety in Sichuan.

"I once went to the mountainous areas of Sichuan in summer, and was rather scared at the sight left behind by landslides on the mountain path," said Gu Peiyu, a local teacher. "I think travel agencies should cancel packages to dangerous places."

The National Tourism Administration has published a warning on its official website, saying that tourists should be aware of the continuous rainstorms in Sichuan.

Local travel agencies said they will adjust all tour packages to Jiuzhaigou by making detours to avoid the land route between Chengdu, Sichuan's capital, and Jiuzhaigou since road traffic on the route has been seriously disrupted by mudslides. Besides, they will also persuade tourists to buy accident insurance.


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