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February 21, 2013

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Scenic spots may offer discounts

SHANGHAI tourism authorities are considering offering regular discounts at popular attractions following complaints that prices are too high.

Attractions are expected to offer a discount on a fixed day each week, Dao Shuming, director of the Shanghai Tourism Bureau, said at the city's tourism work conference yesterday.

A conference between the bureau and operators of scenic sites will be held next week to discuss the scheme in more detail.

"We will encourage tourist attractions to participate in the scheme," said bureau official Yao Shuoye.

About 251 million domestic travelers visited the city in 2012, up 8.7 percent from the previous year.

The number of overseas tourists, including those from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, dropped 2.1 percent to about 8 million.

Most scenic sites reported strong attendance when they offered discounted tickets on China Tourism Day in May and during the Shanghai Tourism Festival in September. Some said they saw a 355 percent surge in visitors for a single day due to the discounts.

Some visitors who took advantage of the half-price deals said admission fees for tourist attractions are too high.

Shanghai Ocean Aquarium costs 160 yuan (US$25) for an adult and 110 yuan for a child, while Shanghai Wildlife Park charges 130 yuan.

A survey carried out by the China Tourism Academy last year reported most Chinese tourists complained about admission prices. The survey, which canvassed 30,000 tourists around the country, found about 20 percent of the money people spent on domestic trips went to admission fees, twice what it costs people overseas.

Most tourists approve the discount plan, but it stirred up some skepticism from operators.

Guo Yifeng, vice general manager of Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower Co, which manages the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, said the discount scheme is just a way to attract more visitors.

The key to truly boosting the tourism market lies in improving services and strengthening the allure of scenic spots, according to Guo.


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