City under fire for 'favouring foreigners'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 July, 2009, 12:00am

A city in Henan province famed for its World Heritage site has been criticised for discriminating against mainlanders by allowing foreigners in for free but not giving Chinese visitors any discount.

Anyang came under the spotlight a day after its deputy mayor, Li Hongwei, announced at a tourism promotion event in Beijing that all scenic spots there would be open to foreigners for free until the end of the year.

The site of Yin Xu, an ancient capital of the Shang dynasty, was added to the World Heritage List by Unesco in 2006. Its oracle bone script is considered the earliest recorded form of Chinese writing.

News of the admission policy spread throughout chat rooms, with much discussion about discrimination. In an online poll by, more than 92 per cent of about 20,000 voters opposed the scheme, and 36 per cent urged the authorities to explain why mainland taxpayers could not also enjoy free admission.

Tourism authorities in Anyang responded yesterday by saying the promotion was aimed at attracting foreign tourists over the short term.

City tourism bureau spokesman Lu Hongfeng said the promotion was aimed at encouraging foreigners to spend.

'We're not discriminating against mainlanders, because we have handed out free admission vouchers worth some 10 million yuan [HK$11 million] to mainland, Hong Kong and Macau residents through online application early this year,' he said.

Mr Lu said it was impractical to make all attractions free to all mainland visitors because scenic spots needed income to operate.

A tourism official, who declined to be named, said the city was short of foreign visitors and so currently failed to meet the national criteria to be classed a premium tourist attraction, a status authorities were striving for, the Henan Business Daily reported.