Tourist attractions freeze prices, for now
There will be no price hike for people visiting major scenic spots during the coming week-long May Day holiday, say park operators, but entrance fees will likely cost more from the beginning of June.
Speaking to the China Daily, officials in charge of tourist attractions in Sichuan, Hunan and Anhui provinces all claimed they have no plans to boost ticket prices during the golden holiday week, May 1-7.
He said a public hearing has been organized to discuss the increase of ticket prices at Jiuzhaigou, a UNESCO world heritage site, and some other famous attractions. In Jiuzhaigou, the entrance fee will be increased from 145 yuan (US$17) to 200 yuan (US$24).
"We will choose a better time to announce it, but the May Day holiday is not good timing," he said.
Sichuan Province has already organized a month-long promotion of its scenic spots in Beijing to attract more visitors during the week-long holiday.
As part of the drive to attract people, the provincial tourism office has said entrance prices at all scenic spots will remain as normal over the May Day holiday.
Howver, an official from the Huangshan Mountain scenic zone, in Anhui Province, said the zone will raise its entrance price to 200 yuan (US$24) from the current 130 yuan (US$15.70) from the beginning of June.
"We will not charge more during the golden week holiday," said an official surnamed Lin from the world heritage site.
He said 60 yuan (US$7.2) of the increased ticket price will go towards protecting the world heritage site.
But some tourists have challenged the sincerity of the scheme.
"The zone just boosts its prices and says the extra money will be used for protecting the zone, but who knows?" said Dai Xiaoling, 30, a Beijing-based company employee. She suggested there should be a supervising organization to ensure the extra charge is used as officials claim. She said a small-scale price rise is understandable but the entrance fees at many tourist attractions are too ambitious. "Some of the prices have nearly doubled and it has happened too quickly."
Dai's comments were echoed by those of Internet users. After major news portals such as sina.com and xinhuanet.com posted price hike news, many Netizens went online to complain in chatrooms.
The pricing watchdog has said the market will show whether prices are too high. "We are not authorized to decide prices for scenic spots and local governments will have the final say after they hold public hearings" said an unnamed official from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
However, the commission recently issued a circular to provincial and local governments, requiring them to be cautious when supervising the prices of goods and services.
"One of the government's priorities this year is to keep prices stable as China has already been pressured by price hikes," said the official.
(China Daily 04/13/2005 page2)