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China launches tourism action plan --China travel News

updated: 2009-04-13

The slowdown in the world economy has cut the numbers of overseas tourists visiting China. To help tackle the downturn, the government yesterday launched a nationwide tourism action plan to boost domestic travel.

Led by the China National Tourism Administration, 186 cities across the country are taking part in a nationwide campaign in the run up to the tourism high season.

With Kung Fu performers, paper streamers, and ancient Chinese drums, a launch ceremony for the plan was held in Beijing's Wangfujing Street on Saturday morning.

Shao Qiwei, director of the China National Tourism Administration, and Ding Xiangyang, vice mayor of the Beijing municipal government, beat ancient square drums that were made famous when they featured in the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

Simultaneous ceremonies were in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, and other major cities.

Zhang Huiguang, director of the Beijing tourism administration announced that Beijing will exchange 10,000 free travel coupons with seven other provinces. Unlike previous similar exercises the tickets will be distributed to travel agencies rather than individuals.

Shanxi Province announced that all its tourist attractions will offer half price admission to visitors until May 31, and that travel agencies that boost visitors numbers would share in a 15 million yuan (US$ 2.2 million) bonus. A new express train from Beijing to Taiyuan has cut the travel time to Shanxi to just three hours.

But it seems some Shanxi officials may have been too enthusiastic in trying to generate interest. Media reports had said the province's tourism authority was to distribute 2 million yuan's (US$ 293,000) worth of travel coupons in Wangfujing yesterday. When the crowd discovered that there were, in fact, no free coupons, some disgruntled people wrecked the Shanxi stall.

The National Tourism Administration estimates that domestic travelers will take 1.8 billion passenger trips on the Chinese mainland, and 50 million passenger trips outside the mainland, this year - an increase of about 9 percent over last year.

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