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Free tickets draw fire

A CITY in central China's Henan Province has come under fire for offering free admission to tourist attractions for foreign visitors.

The free admission scheme in Anyang City starts today and lasts until the end of the year.

Tourists with foreign passports will enjoy free admission to all attractions, including the ruins of the oldest capital city in China, yesterday's Orient Today reported. The offer has sparked public complaints about the different 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," said Lu Hongfeng of Anyang Tourism Bureau's marketing department.

He dismissed the criticism, saying 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 a museum featuring the ruins of the Shang Dynasty (1500-1046 BC) capital for free to the public, but the site was so overcrowded that the museum had to shut part of it to protect the site.


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