Tourism officials yesterday rejected allegations they had falsified figures to show a boom during the just-ended 'golden week' holiday. Responding to claims by state media and academics, a spokesman for the State Administration of Tourism said there was no exaggeration of the national statistics jointly released by his administration and the State Bureau of Statistics. 'The figures were announced jointly by the most authoritative government ministries. How can they doubt the truthfulness of such statistics? The accusation is groundless,' said the spokesman, referring to a China Youth Daily report, which was also carried by Xinhua on its website. Citing local tourism officials, the report said the figures were falsified at the instruction of local authorities to show a tourism industry boom during the holiday. A percentage increase was added to last year's figures 'to avoid losing face in the competition with other provinces and disappointing higher-level authorities', according to a provincial tourism official from a northeastern province quoted by the paper. The report also questioned the wisdom of announcing the figures too quickly. 'Many provinces were impatient to release the statistics on the last day of the 'golden week' holiday, and boast about marked increases in all of the statistics during the holiday,' said the report. The Ministry of Commerce also denied the accusation yesterday. A report by the ministry on Sunday said national retail sales soared by 240 billion yuan, up 17 per cent compared with last year's May Day holiday. But the criticism was echoed by Zhao Xi, an economist from the South Western University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu . Professor Zhao said it was nearly impossible to release trustworthy figures within such a brief time, given the difficulty in gathering statistics from various provinces and tourist sites. He said the official statistics and the denial of the media accusations, which were full of bureaucratic language, were aimed at highlighting the success of the 'golden week' holiday, which was introduced in 1999.