Air crashes, hijackings, explosions and other gloomy news in other parts of the world did not prevent the Chinese people celebrating their annual National Day festival.
In spite of the global terror scare, 740 planes took off and landed at Beijing's Capital International Airport on Monday, the first day of the week-long National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, 100 more than on the same day in 2000.
The national tourism authority estimated that an average 500, 000 domestic and overseas tourists visited scenic spots in Beijing every day during the holiday period, up 2.4 per cent compared to the same period of last year.
The Forbidden City's visitors were up 9.7 per cent over the last National Day. The occupancy rate of hotels was 80 percent, and ticket incomes at major scenic spots nationwide increased by an average of 15 per cent.
In the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which has a mainly Moslem population and is adjacent to Afghanistan, 50,000 people gathered in the central square of the city of Kaxi to view a national flag raising ceremony on October 1. Sports lottery tickets were popular buys.
An estimated 120,000 Xinjiang people chose to travel to other parts of China, and 50,000 inland Chinese visited Xinjiang for sightseeing.
The travel fever means nothing but profits and round-the-clock work for domestic airliners.
The occupancy rate of Monday's flights reached 90 per cent between some major tourist destinations. And over 90 per cent of the return tickets from scenic spots like Zhangjiajie and Dunhuang during the coming week have been booked up.
In south China's Guangdong Province, Baiyun Airport in the provincial capital of Guangzhou handled 463 flights on Monday alone, beating the record set during this year's Spring Festival holiday.
It is estimated that nearly 400,000 people will pass through the airport during the October 1-7 season; up to 200,000 will be tourists departing China for international travel, 40 per cent up over the same period last year.
Hong Kong is also a popular travel spot. The immigration authorities there said that more than 200,000 tourists entered Hong Kong from Shenzhen on Monday, among them 300 were tourist groups.
To cope with the huge tide of passengers, all Chinese airlines have arranged additional flights, including nearly 200-chartered flights.
In the remote Tibet Autonomous Region, more people are also traveling by air.
Danba Qoita, a Buddhist Lama from Qamdo in eastern Tibet, said he was nervous and excited at getting on an airplane for the first time, as he boarded a flight to Beijing.
"I have dreamed of seeing the Yonghe Temple in Beijing for a long time, and now my dream has come true," he said.
The national transportation authorities said that during the holiday period a record 1.6 million people were expected to depart Beijing by train, up 4.2 per cent over the same period of last year. Tickets for hot tourist sites have all been booked up.
Nanjing's railway department has put into service an additional 150 trains to help ease the pressure.
Moreover, some 36.80 million people are traveling via highway networks each day.
In Beijing, the subway department put into operation an additional 60 trains, as two million people took the subway on National Day.
For those who do not intend to go far, there are other choices.
Ninety-five per cent of Beijing's rental cars have been snapped up by travelers eager to see the sights during the holidays, compared with the normal car rental rate of 70 per cent.
The Chinese capital has about 200 car rental businesses, with about 20,000 cars -- about 40 per cent of the country's total cars for rent.
In a random telephone interview with 20 car rental businesses listed in the Beijing Yellow Pages, there were no cars available, with the exception of one company, which had a single auto left for grabs.
Most of those renting the cars are employees of overseas-funded companies or private businesses, who are classified as Beijing's white-collar or higher-paid workers.
The tourism boom has also sparked a spending spree in supermarkets and on dinner tables.
Business has been brisk for restaurants on the streets of Beijing, including those serving Chinese food and the Western fast-food giants McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
A restaurant famous for its Beijing Roast Duck has been selling about 1,100 roast ducks each day, trebling its sales volume over the previous average daily figure.
Sales volumes for major shopping malls, such as the Beijing Department Store and Dong'an Mall have nearly doubled their average for past years.
Meanwhile, restaurants in Guangzhou are filled with so many customers that it's hard to find a seat without a reservation.
Major shopping centers such as the Guangzhou Department Store have all reported soaring turnovers.
Clothes and jewelry are selling especially well. Even the moon cake market, tarnished by media reports that out-of-date cakes were being recycled by a name brand producer in Nanjing, reported aggressive sales.
Fashion shows, and song and dance performances were staged in front of Lhasa's biggest department store to attract more customers.
Cering, 70, used a videophone for the first time to call her son. "Unbelievable! I can see him although he is thousands of miles away. It is like a dream." The old Tibetan woman gasped.
The streets of major cities have seen fleets of wedding sedans, all decorated with colorful flowers, red ribbons and banners. Beijing's 20 wedding companies arranged 500 ceremonies on National Day alone. Each of the couples spent 20,000 yuan on their weddings.
Sun Guoqing, coming to Beijing from east China's Ningbo city, was deeply impressed by how neat and clean Beijing is, especially its peaceful and progressive atmosphere.
"We have won the hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games, and we are about to enter the WTO. It's all good news this year. We definitely want to have a good celebration," said an old gentleman who identified himself as Xiao and was dancing Yangge, a popular folk dance, in the street to the accompaniment of drumbeats.
The nation's festival air is getting more cheerful because of the excellent performance of the country's football team, which is only one step away from the finals of the World Cup.
"We hope our country will become stronger and more beautiful, and our lives happier," said Wang Xi, a taxi driver, who visited the Fragrance Hills Park, in the western suburbs of Beijing, with his family.
(People's Daily 10/06/2001)