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China: Tourism off to thriving start

A bounty tourism for the Year of the Horse is predicted after a booming beginning with…

A bounty tourism for the Year of the Horse is predicted after a booming beginning with this month`s Lunar New Year holiday.

Major scenic cities, including Nanjing and Hangzhou, reported a big tourist rush during the weeklong festival between February 12 and 18.

Economists believe that the holiday tourism and entertainment industries will become a new propeller of the country`s economic development in the new century.

A record 1.2 million tourists visited Nanjing, capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu – including 10,000 from overseas – during the Spring Festival holidays.

They spent some 931 million yuan (US$113 million) during their visit, Xinhua news agency reported.

Nanjing, the capital of six ancient Chinese dynasties, has rich tourism resources. It also stages special activities at scenic spots like Plum Blossom Hill, Sun Yat-sen`s Mausoleum, and Xuanwu Lake.

More than 5,000 Chinese from Nanjing traveled abroad during the holidays, up 11 percent from last year.

The traditional habit of staying at home during holidays has changed drastically in recent years.

The tourism market during holidays was in very good order, and tourism revenues are on the rise, representing a sound development of what economists call the country`s holiday economy.

The term holiday economy debuted in 1999, when annual public holidays were increased to 114 days, with three lengthened major holidays.

Since then, people have begun to flock to tourist destinations during holidays, giving rise to a boom in travel spending.

Meanwhile, services, transportation, entertainment and a series of tourism-related businesses have been promoted.

Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, registered 3.25 million domestic tourists during the Spring Festival holidays, up 12.3 percent from the previous year.

The tourists spent some 2.304 billion yuan during their stay, up 17.5 percent from last year, according to the provincial tourism bureau.

During the holidays, Zhejiang also attracted more than 35,000 overseas tourists, up 18.6 percent.

The coastal province has rich tourism resources, ranging from sea beaches, scenic mountain landscapes to historical relics. It has also designed various tourism programs, including the spectacular Qiantang Sea Tide Watching, the Zhoushan Sand Sculpture Contest and Show and the Hangzhou Golden Autumn International Tourism Festival.

The National Tourism Administration reports that overall tourism revenue of China last year reached 499.5 billion yuan (US$60.18 billion), an increase of 10.5 percent from the previous year, according to Xinhua.

The revenue included foreign-currency earnings of US$17.8 billion from overseas tourists and 352.2 billion yuan from domestic tourism.

China`s mainland received 89 million overseas visitors last year, a growth of 6.7 percent from that of the previous year.

Experts attributed the marked tourism growth to the country`s stable and safe situation, as well as government`s supportive policies, including the exemption of visa for transient foreign visitors to Shanghai and Hainan Province. The transient time for a foreign visitor in Shanghai is two days, and in southern island province of Hainan such a transient time can be as long as 15 days.

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