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June 17, 2010

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Blazing paddles in the name of tradition

Shanghai, home to the 2010 World Expo, proved the hottest spot for tourists from all over the Chinese mainland during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday.

However, Shanghai people, Expo notwithstanding, opted for surrounding provinces.

The hotel- and airline-ticket booking rates of Shanghai topped all cities on the mainland for the vacation.

The Expo was the biggest attraction,, China's biggest online travel agency, said yesterday.

"Compared to the May Day holiday, Expo was a bigger draw for tourists," said Tang Lan, deputy chief executive officer of the company.

The Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center said numbers were almost 200 percent higher than for last year's festival.

"The one-day trip to the Expo site was the most popular package for the holiday," said Shen Li, a center official. "About 82 percent of our guests chose the Expo package."

Outside the city, places where tourists were able to enjoy the festival atmosphere were the most popular.

People went to Zhouzhuang, Jiangsu Province, and Wuzhen and Tongli towns in Zhejiang Province, to watch dragon boat racing and partake of realgar wine.

Transport authorities added services to head off congestion into and out of the city.

At Shanghai South Long-Distance Bus Station, the major terminal to neighboring cities, officials said they added 430 services from Sunday up to yesterday.

A total 4,270 services handled about 120,000 people, a 41.8 percent jump on last year. Trips to nearby cities like Hangzhou and Suzhou proved to be immensely popular, according to officials.

Railway passenger turnout saw about a 10 percent increase over last year, hitting more than 700,000.

The city Metro operator said yesterday daily commuter turnout surpassed 5 million but had not reached 6 million, the predicted number before the holiday.

The city's overall transport system handled about 16 million passengers a day.

The city's consumers' rights hotline yesterday received 155 complaints, down 25 percent from the last festival. Cell-phone and telecom complaints were about double that of 2009, authorities said.


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