Tourists lost and found in Tian'anmen
By Wang Shanshan (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-05 08:38

Tian'anmen Square is the No 1 destination for Chinese during the national holiday week and can hold more than 1 million people.

It is the world's largest city square, spanning 440,000 square metres, or 63 football fields and for many, is a place of dreams and inspiration. However getting lost can be a nightmare.

The mother of five-year-old Xiao Hao was in tears after she was separated from her son in the throngs of people.

Police were quick to broadcast a message over the loudspeakers and patrols used walkie-talkies to search for the child. The desperate mother was re-united with her son within a few minutes.

More than 3,700 people reported lost friends or relatives in Tian'anmen Square during the first three days of the holiday, according to police.

Long queues formed at lost-and-found centres, which broadcasted messages alerting lost people where to meet. Police also provided broadcast and telephone services. Some lost visitors gave up looking for loved ones and police provided public transport information so they could return home.

Cleaning workers were kept busy having to remove 113.8 tons of rubbish on the square in the first three days of the holiday, 20 times the usual daily amount, according to the Beijing News.

The National Day holiday is a favourite travel time for many Chinese and in some small scenic cities, tourists far exceeded the local population.

The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) yesterday reported more than 3.4 million visitors to the country's 119 major tourist attractions on Tuesday.

The Forbidden City and the Great Wall were overcrowded and the excessive number of tourists may endanger the well being of these centuries-old architectures, said CNTA.

"We have sent special guards to prevent possible damages to the cultural relics," Liu Yanmin, spokeswoman of the Palace Museum, the administrative organ of the Forbidden City, told China Daily.

On Tuesday, more than 70,000 people visited the Forbidden City and 60,000 climbed up the Great Wall in Beijing. There were so many people at the Badaling section of the Great Wall that they had to walk slowly in long queues.

Suzhou in East China's Jiangsu Province, where the ancient gardens have been inscribed on the World Cultural Heritage list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, received more than 700,000 guests on Tuesday. Meanwhile, 4.4 million people travelled on the train and more than 400,000 in airplanes on Monday, according to the CNTA report.

In major tourism cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, more than 70 per cent of the hotel rooms were booked on Monday. At some scenic spots, like the Yellow Mountain in East China's Anhui Province, almost all the hotels were full on Monday.