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October 8, 2012

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Shanghai's travelers heading for home after bumper break

BOARDING cars, buses, railways and planes, Shanghai's travelers headed for home yesterday as their rare eight-day holiday break came to an end and work was due to resume today.

The holiday proved to be a boost for Shanghai's tourism industry, although due to the increase in numbers at tourist sites sometimes it felt like the bumper crowds were the major attraction rather than the scenery.

Shanghai's traffic and police authorities said that the situation at the city's toll stations was "relatively smooth" during the holiday apart from the serious congestion that marked the beginning of the holiday on September 30 when many vehicles queued up to leave the city.

Shanghai saw more than 1.39 million vehicles coming to the city during the eight-day holiday while more than 1.63 million left. Police said the huge jump compared to last year was due to the toll-free policy on the nation's highways and expressways.

Many families took advantage of it to drive to neighboring provinces and farther afield, while out-of-towners took the chance to visit the big city.

Shanghai tourism administration said the city handled more than 7.91 million incoming tourists, a 20 percent rise over last year. Between them they spent more than 7 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion).

More than 550,000 air travelers, domestic and international alike, chose to go aboard or enter the city during the holiday, said frontier police based at Shanghai's two international airports at Hongqiao and Pudong.

Short trips to neighboring Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and southeast Asian countries were popular. However, trips to Japan, usually extremely popular, were not in favor this year due to the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands.

Shanghai's road authorities reported no large-scale jams or long lines at toll stations yesterday. But the volume was expected to grow at night with drivers rushing back before the end of the toll-free policy.

However, officials were advising drivers not to be in a rush to meet the deadline at the expense of safety.

In the first two hours after the toll stations resume charging, officials said, only the minimum fee would be collected.

Police were using the Weibo microblogging service to advise drivers of the roads situation.


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