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Golden Week a golden time for travel industry
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Mainland tourists are expected to make the upcoming Golden Week truly golden.

With a longer holiday this year, a record 200 million travelers are set to drop an estimated 100 billion yuan ($14.6 billion) on vacations during the week, said the China Tourism Academy.

The National Day holiday, which falls in the first week of October, and the Mid-Autumn Festival, which this year falls on Oct 3, will together provide an eight-day holiday from Oct 1-8.

"Though only one day is added, people will have much more freedom (when making travel plans)," said Tang Yibo, director of the holiday section with Ctrip.com, a major online travel service in China.

The average traveler is expected to spend 500 yuan this year, up from 448 yuan in 2008.

Last year, 177 million tourists hit the roads during Golden Week.

Because of the additional day, nearly 30 percent of 1,500 netizens surveyed by Ctrip.com said they may arrange longer trips, and 10 percent said they would increase their budgets.

The number of people planning to travel for five or six days during Golden Week increased by 50 percent over last year.

The China Tourism Academy estimated that 1.2 million mainland tourists will visit Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao during the week, and that 300,000 will travel abroad.

Zhang Wei, general manager of the outbound department with the China International Travel Service head office, said that high-end tours to distant destinations such as Europe are already full, signaling a brisk market.

Tang also said that some of their trips to Europe, Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have been sold out.

"People are more willing to travel outside of the mainland this National Day holiday, not only because of a longer holiday, but also because of a comparatively low price," Tang said.

Insiders said the price of tours to overseas destinations usually increases at least 20 percent during Golden Week, but this year the increase will be around 10 percent, encouraging more tourists to book vacations.

(China Daily September 11, 2009)

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