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Free offer for foreigners under fire

A North Chinese city has come under fire for offering free admission to tourist attractions for foreign visitors.

The free admission scheme in Henan Province starts tomorrow and goes through to the end of the year. Tourists with foreign passports will enjoy free admission to all attractions in Anyang City including the ruins of the oldest capital city in China, today's Orient Today reported.

The offer has sparked public complaints about biased treatment for domestic and foreign visitors - Chinese tourists will continue to pay for admission.

"The free admission is to boost the local tourism industry by attracting more foreign tourists here," said Lu Hongfeng, vice director of Anyang Tourism Bureau's marketing department.

He dismissed the criticism, saying that the city had offered other incentives for Chinese tourists including 10 million yuan (US$1.46 million) worth of tourist vouchers.

He said the tourism authority will not expand the free admission scheme to all visitors because of concerns about the protection of archeological sites.

In July, 2006, the city opened the Yinxu Museum for free to the public for one month after the site - the ruins of the Shang Dynasty (1500-1046BC) capital known as Yin - was listed as a World Cultural Heritage site. "The site was so overcrowded that the museum had to shut part of it to protect the archeological heritage," he said.

Anyang is an ancient city with over 3,000 years of history and is one of the eight ancient capitals of China.

The massive archaeological site of Yinxu was discovered in 1899.


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