Golden Week

Chaotic scenes as tourists flock to top mainland scenic spots for 'golden week' holiday

Chaotic scenes at key tourist attractions for 'golden week' holiday; one couple claim they are stabbed by guards in a row over a refund

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 4:50am

Popular tourist spots across the mainland were swamped with, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers during the long National Day holiday, sparking traffic mayhem and clashes between tourists and administrators.

One tourist, Dong Liwen, accused security guards at the Mount Huashan scenic area in Shaanxi of stabbing him and his wife after they asked for a refund on Tuesday because of poor service.

"I didn't expect to end my holiday in a hospital with my wife," Dong said at the People's Hospital in Huayin, where he is being treated for stab wounds. His wife was stabbed twice in an arm.

He said they had to wait for more than four hours for a downhill cable car late on Tuesday night and then had to walk for more than nine kilometres after failing to find a shuttle bus when they got to the bottom. He was attacked by about 20 people, including some security guards, after he complained to Huashan's administration office.

A spokeswoman for the sacred Taoist mountain's administration office, who refused to give her name, described Dong's complaint as an "online rumour" and would only confirm that "some tourists created a disturbance". She added that there were more than 27,000 tourists on the mountain on Tuesday, but its capacity was no more than 20,000.

She also said that about 10,000 people had been stuck on the mountain on Tuesday night and had been unable to get down until early yesterday morning.

The Ministry of Transport had earlier predicted that mainlanders would make around 740 million trips during the holiday, the longest "golden week" this year because it includes the MidAutumn Festival and the National Day holidays. The ministry was expecting an average of 82.5 million trips a day, up 8.8 per cent on the same period last year.

Ticket revenue in scenic spots at the start of the holiday hit 309 million yuan (HK$380 million), up by a third on last year, the China National Tourism Administration said yesterday. It monitors ticket sales at 119 scenic spots.

In Zhejiang, police said 900,000 people had visited West Lake, a freshwater lake in historic Hangzhou, on Tuesday, double the number on Sunday and almost 20 per cent up on the same day last year.

Yesterday more than 40,000 tourists visited the pine forest village of Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan, a tiny heritage site, Xinhua reported.

Mount Tai in Shandong had 65,000 visitors yesterday morning, with queueing for tickets lasting an average of 30 minutes. At another famous site, Lushan Mountain in Jiangxi , staff had to stop people from entering for hours on Tuesday afternoon because it was "overly full". "We have more than 3,000 parking spaces but there are more than 10,000 cars trying to get in," the staff member said.

The chaotic scenes raise questions about the mainland's mandatory "golden week" holiday system and pose a challenge to the country's booming domestic tourism industry.

In 1999, during the Asian financial crisis, Beijing came up with the notion of "golden weeks" as a way to boost consumer spending and the tourist industry. But in 2008, the government decided to kill off one of the three "golden weeks", turning the May Day one into three separate, short holidays.

But people complained that the resulting three-day holidays were too short for travelling. Because most people use the Spring Festival "golden week" for family reunions, the National Day holiday has become the only time suitable for touring.

Liu Simin, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Science's Tourism Research Centre, said cutting the number of "golden weeks" from three to two had been a big mistake. "Chinese consumers have been finding it a lot easier to travel in recent years and they have money to support their travel. But cutting the May Day 'golden week' constrained their travel opportunities," Liu said.