CHENGDU: The capital of Sichuan province began its promotion to lure tourists by issuing 20 million tourism cards yesterday.
Each card costs 1 yuan ($0.14) and 15 million of them will be given to people outside Sichuan, said Mu Tao, deputy chief of Chengdu tourism administration.
Until the end of the year, cardholders can visit 11 tourist attractions in the city without paying entrance fees, a total saving of 708 yuan. However, Sichuan cardholders, who get the other five million cards, will have to pay half the fares.
The move will save tourists up to 12 billion yuan, Mu told China Daily.
The tourist sites include Dujiangyan, the world's oldest irrigation project still in operation, Mount Qingcheng, the birthplace of Taoism, and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, which has 83 pandas.
Visitors can get tourism cards in banks and airline companies across the country, at the Shuangliu International Airport and the exit of the Chengdu North Railway Station.
The move is to offer thanks for the help Chengdu received in earthquake relief and to boost domestic demand to fight the economic downturn, said Deng Gongli, deputy secretary-general of the Chengdu government.