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May 20, 2012

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Half-price tourist attractions prove just the ticket

RAIN failed to dampen the enthusiasm of visitors and locals yesterday, as large numbers took advantage of half-price admission to Shanghai tourist attractions.

Forty tourist sites in the city offering a 50 percent discount to mark the second "China Tourism Day" attracted more than 310,000 visitors, with many attractions recording big jumps in admission figures.

The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum welcomed 20,000 visitors - a jump of 355 percent on the same period last year, Madame Tussauds 8,000, up 150 percent, and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower 24,000, an increase of 25 percent.

And the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, Shanghai Wildlife Park and Happy Valley reported increases ranging from 21 percent to 100 percent.

As early as 8:15am, large numbers were queuing in rain at the gate of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower for tickets priced at 75 yuan (US$12.09) for the observatory platform.

"I have never been to the tower before, put off by the high ticket price," said 54-year-old Shanghai resident Zhang Cuifang.

Normally at this time there are few visitors, and numbers were also greater than during the recent Labor Day holiday, said a security guard at the tower.

Nearby, the queue at the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium was nearly 80 meters' long, almost reaching the gate of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

Boris Wang, a 26-year-old postgraduate student at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, came with his girlfriend.

"We decided to make the trip despite the rain because we can save some money," he said. "This opportunity only occurs once a year and we don't want to miss it."

The aquarium admitted 15,000 visitors yesterday - up 36 percent on the same period last year.

However, not all attractions taking part in the half-price promotion reported big surges in numbers.

The Shanghai World Financial Center reported that visitor volume was around the same as usual.

Some visitors taking advantage of the half-price deal said admission fees for Shanghai tourist attractions are too high.

"Tickets are overpriced and discount days too few," complained Shanghai resident Zhou Bing as he queued at the aquarium with his daughter.

He said prices were acceptable only after a 50 percent discount.

Dao Shuming, Shanghai Tourism Administration director, said the administration is encouraging the city's tourist attractions to offer price discounts on quieter weekdays.


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