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National Day holiday sees people on the move
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Passengers wait at a counter in the Beijing Capital International Airport on Monday, September 29, 2008. On the first day of the weeklong Chinese National Day holiday, the airport is expected to handle more than 200,000 passengers and 1,381 flights. [Xinhua]

More than 60 percent of Chinese said they planned to travel during the National Day holiday, according to a survey conducted by the China National Tourism Administration.

But the number of outbound tourists is surprisingly small as only 3 percent of the 14,666 people surveyed said they would visit overseas destinations during the holiday week.

The survey found 33 percent of respondents planned outings to downtown or suburban areas, while another 24 percent intended to go sightseeing in other provinces.

Among domestic destinations, Beijing, Zhejiang, Yunnan, Shandong and Guangdong are the five most popular destinations.

For outbound mainland tourists, the hottest overseas destinations are Hong Kong and Macao, with 22 percent of those with outbound travel plans saying they would visit the special administrative regions.

Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea remain popular, while Europe stands out among all long-distance destinations, the survey found.

Among the remaining respondents, 24 percent said they will visit friends, relatives or family members.

And 13 percent said they would rather stay at home during the holiday, while 3 percent had alternative plans.

"We can see from our sales figures that domestic travel has the upper hand during this National Day holiday," said Zhang Qingzhu, a marketing manager with China Comfort Travel Ltd.

"One of the reasons may be that domestic package tours during this Golden Week are much cheaper than last year. For example, package tours of Tibet are nearly 1,000 yuan ($147) cheaper," she said.

Prices of domestic tours have been cut to attract tourists because tourist attractions and travel agencies suffered severe losses in the first half of this year due to the severe frost and snowstorms that hit southern China in February and the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan province.

The huge traffic flow during the holiday week is expected to put a great deal of pressure on the nation's transport system.

Ministry of Railways spokesman Wang Yongping said the national railway network is expected to transport 57 million people this week, an increase of 7.57 million compared to the same period last year.

The traffic peaked yesterday, when 6.5 million people were estimated to be taking trains, he said.

The ministry has arranged 45 additional pairs of trains to transport people to popular tourist destinations such as Zhangjiajie, Guilin, Shenzhen and Kunming.

As for road traffic, He Jianzhong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, estimated that 381 million people will travel by road during the Golden Week, up 5 percent year-on-year.

(China Daily September 30, 2008)

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