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August 3, 2009

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Urumqi bazaar nearly deserted following riot

THE International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has reported a drastic drop in visitors since it reopened after the July 5 riot.

The number of tourists averaged 100 to 200 each day since the bazaar reopened on July 22 after it was shut for 17 days following the riot, said Zhu Xiaoling, an official with the bazaar's office.

The bazaar received more than 100,000 people on average everyday before the riot.

"Shops in the bazaar depend mainly on tourists for business," Zhu said. "Since Xinjiang's tourism has been badly affected by the riot and the number of tourists have dropped significantly, our businesses remain empty."

About 3,400 domestic and overseas tourist groups, comprising 200,000 travelers, had canceled tours to Xinjiang as of July 12, according to Xinjiang's tourism bureau.

The tourism industry was an important source of income for many of the city's residents.

The landmark bazaar, which boasts 4,000 shops and booths, includes a banquet hall, a food court, a sightseeing tower and a mosque. Yesterday, many vendors sat idle in their shops in the nearly empty bazaar.

"I have two kids to support in my family," said Patiaimu. "If business remains bad, I do not know what I'll do."


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