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China tourism heats up despite global economic cooldown
Updated: 2009-02-01 17:58

The global financial crisis failed to dampen tourism in China during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday as lower travel costs helped boost spending, according to statistics released by the National Tourism Administration on Saturday.

Statistics showed 19 major tourism cities including Beijing recorded a more than 15 percent increase in both the number of tourists and revenue during the holiday from Jan 25 to 31.

Analysts attributed the increase to local governments and tourism bureaus' efforts including price cuts of tickets and travel packages which helped stimulate consumption during the golden week.

"The economic turmoil compelled airlines to cut fuel surcharges, while restaurants and tourist sites provided discounts. These contributed to the booming domestic tourism market," said Qi Xinyuan, head of marketing section of China International Travel Service.

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Beijing received 3.24 million travelers during the holiday, up 20 percent from the same holiday last year. Revenue hit 2.16 billion yuan ($316 million), up 32.6 percent year on year.

The festival brought 7.13 million people to the eastern Shandong province, up 16.3 percent. Tourism revenue totaled 4.58 billion yuan, up 19.6 percent.

The quake-hit Sichuan province also posted impressive results, with the number of tourists climbing 21.9 percent to about 16.57 million and total revenue up 32.8 percent to 4.725 billion yuan.

Statistics also showed the number of outbound tourists visiting Japan, ROK, south Asian countries, and Australia increased. However, no specific figures were available for these regions.

With warmer relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, tours to Taiwan turned out to be popular, with more than 13,000 mainland travelers visiting the island during the seven-day holiday.

The administration said the tourism boom at the beginning of the country's traditional new year set a good start for the whole year.

In the eventful 2008, global tourism market was dragged into a slump by the financial crisis. China was also affected, with the number of foreign tourists falling 6.8 percent to 24.3 million from the previous year.

Tourism revenue totaled 1.16 trillion yuan last year, up 5.8 percent year-on-year. It included 874.9 billion yuan earned from local travelers and 283.9 billion yuan from overseas tourists. The two figures for 2007 were 777.1 billion yuan and 312.9 billion yuan, respectively.

Data showed domestic tourism still held up while inbound tourism declined.

The tourism administration's chief, Shao Qiwei, said on Jan 7 that the country would seek to stimulate domestic tourism and create new hot tourist spots. He expected this year would see rising domestic and outbound travels and a rebound in inbound tourism.

According to a survey conducted by China Tourism Academy and Tsinghua University, 92 percent of respondents were willing to travel this year.

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