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May 20, 2014

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Half-price ticket offer fails to woo sightseers

THE huge crowds expected at tourist attractions across the city failed to materialize yesterday as interest in the fourth annual China Tourism Day fell far short of last year’s level.

Such was the anticipation at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower that it opened its doors 30 minutes earlier than usual, at 7:30am. It needn’t have bothered.

An unnamed security guard at the tower said that last year people had to queue for hours to get in. This year they just walked straight through the door, he said.

The comparison with last year is, however, a little unfair. China Tourism Day is celebrated on May 19, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.

Last year it was a Sunday, this year a Monday.

Wang Xiaoli, who works for the tower’s operating company, said attendance figures yesterday were “about the same as any other Monday.”

Despite the operator’s disappointment, Chen Baohua, a tourist from Anhui Province, was delighted by the low turnout. “I thought we would have to queue for hours to get in, but we didn’t have to wait at all,” she said.

Chen, who visited the tower with her husband, said she heard about the special offer online. The couple paid just 80 yuan (US$13) each to get in yesterday, instead of the usual 160 yuan.

“I was very happy with the discount and the lack of crowds. It was a nice warm day, too,” she said.

Chen, whose daughter works in Shanghai, said she had never visited the tower before.

At Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, yesterday’s visitor numbers were significantly higher than a normal Monday, but not as high as last year.

A worker there said the total was about the same as a regular weekend day. But on Tourism Day last year people had to queue for more than two hours to get a ticket.

It was a similar story at Shanghai Wildlife Park. The number of visitors yesterday rose 45 percent from a week earlier, to 4,580, but on May 19 last year, the total was 26,000.

More than 40 tourist attractions across the city halved their admission charges for China Tourism Day, which was launched in 2011 in response to claims that entry fees at many of the country’s tourist spots were too high.

“The (half price) offer is good, but having it on just one day is not enough,” said Xie Danni, a local office worker.

“And I’m not going to take a day off work just to get a discount,” she said.

During the annual Shanghai Tourism Festival, local attractions offer half-price admission for a whole week.


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