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Holiday 'golden' for tourism industry
( 2003-10-09 01:30) (China Daily)

The week long National Day holiday has witnessed some 90 million tourists travelling across the country, a record high since the first "Golden Week'' holiday in 2000.

Two US tourists try making "Zanba" a staple food for some of China's ethnic groups, in a Dong minority village in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region last week. "Zanba" is made by pounding sticky rice in a stone mortar. [newsphoto.com.cn]
The mass movement brought 34.6 billion yuan (US$4.2 billion) worth of income to shops, restaurants, hotels, scenic spots and various businesses related to the tourist industry, which were hit hard by the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) earlier this year.

The tourist arrivals nationwide from October 1 to 7 jumped by 11.5 per cent over the same period last year, with their spending up 13.1 per cent, the National Tourism Administration announced yesterday.

Air carriers have benefitted greatly from the travel boom, with 1.65 billion yuan (US$200 million) in volume reported during the week, up 29.9 per cent year on year. The railways also took a pleasing share with over 1 billion yuan (US$128 million) worth of fares, up 6 per cent.

The gain is also an all-time high since the State authority began to launch week long holidays, known as Golden Week, in the International Day of Labour in May and the National Day in October every year since 2000.

"We are proud to declare that we have made exciting achievements economically and socially in this Golden Week,'' said Sun Gang, executive director of the National Holiday Office assigned by the administration.

Nobody dared to say anything like that during the Labour Day holiday starting on May 1 this year when Beijing, shadowed by the deadly epidemic of SARS, was empty of tourists.

Tourism income across the country virtually froze during those days, as people had to stay home for fear of the extremely contagious virus.

After the epidemic ebbed, the central government had been expecting a sharp recovery of tourist travel during the National Day holiday. The State Council even held a special meeting on September 17 to see to the preparation of the Golden Week.

The result has been tremendously positive.

The once barren streets in Beijing were flooded with tourists from all over the country during the past week, clearing up clouds over businesses which used to fret over poor yields in 2003.

Sales at the Beijing Department Store set a new record during the holiday.

"The sales not only made up for the big losses during the SARS period, but also generated a small surplus for the year on average,'' said Sales Manager Guan Yan.

Figures from 136 major retailers in 31 key tourist cities across the country revealed that 2.96 billion yuan (US$357 million) in sales volume was generated during the Golden Week, up 18.9 per cent year on year.

As well, 140 restaurant enterprises reported 220 million yuan (US$26.5 million) worth of income, up 17.1 per cent, according to the administration.

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