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Street issues vouchers

SILK Street Market, one of Beijing's most popular clothing markets, is offering vouchers worth 20 million yuan (US$2.9 million) to boost sales, which have been hurt by the economic downturn.

The vouchers, with a face value of 50 yuan or 100 yuan, became valid in all outlets at the market on Wednesday. Shoppers can use the coupons after bargaining on prices with vendors, said Wang Zili, general manager of the market.

Visitor numbers had not been too severely affected this year, but average spending had fallen sharply since the global financial crisis began, he noted.

The market received 2.9 million visitors in the first four months of this year, down 6.7 percent from the same period last year, Wang said.

The coupons will be distributed over the next year to tourists from around the world through five-star hotels, tourist guides and airlines, he said.

Jin Wenbiao, manager of the nearby Wuyutai Teahouse, said sales had dropped by 30 percent during the financial crisis.

"I hope the measure can boost consumption and help us out of difficulties," Jin said.

The street has also spent 80 million yuan returning part of its rental income to stall owners as another measure to combat the financial crisis. More than 90 stall owners will benefit, Wang said.

The street is a favorite among visitors and has more than 1,000 stalls in its market.


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