Golden Week tourism blues

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 October, 2009, 12:00am

The mainland's eight-day National Day 'golden week' holiday - the longest public holiday in its history - got off to a disappointing start for the tourism industry.

An extra day was added to the usual National Day holiday week because of today's Mid-Autumn Festival, which normally falls in September, but it started poorly for the tourism industry. About 1.4 million people visited the 119 major tourist sites that the National Tourism Administration monitored nationwide on Thursday, an 8.22 per cent drop on the first day of last year's holiday. Ticket sales and other income at these sites fell by about 16 per cent.

The administration also said the average hotel occupancy rate was 90 per cent on Thursday in Shanghai, Dalian, and Wuhan but many other popular holiday destinations had occupancy rates of only 50 or 60 per cent.

'I think it is too early to call it the worst [holiday], because it is only data for the first day,' Zhuang Weiliang, a tourism analyst at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said. 'But the great military parade yesterday [Thursday] and the Mid-Autumn Festival will certainly make a great number of families stay at home to celebrate, instead of travelling. Besides, the economic crisis is still here, affecting people's desire to consume.'

The holiday spirit will be lacking on some college campuses in central and northern areas, as the eight-day holiday was cancelled for fear of further swine flu outbreaks.

Shandong University, in the east, posted a notice on its website on September 21 restricting students' holidays to Thursday, this afternoon and tomorrow.

Several universities in Shandong, Heilongjiang, Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces also cancelled the holiday.

College students usually use the one-week holiday to travel, so this has also affected the travel industry.

More than six million passengers travelled by rail on Wednesday, a 20 per cent increase from the same period last year. In addition, about 730,000 tourists travelled by air.

Some popular attractions on the mainland, anticipating better business for the National Day holiday, set limits for the first time on the number of visitors they would accept.

Dameisha Beach in Shenzhen has imposed a maximum daily capacity of 50,000 visitors. During the Labour Day holiday on May 2, 320,000 visitors packed the park.