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Golden Week Benefits China's Neighbors
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For Hu Mingming, a female Chinese fashion designer, golden week means lying on the sand at the picturesque Phuket Island in Thailand and enjoying seven days of sunshine.


It is the fourth time Hu has spent her week-long holiday on Phuket Island, one of the first international tourist sites for Chinese. Like Hu, more and more Chinese choose to spend their holidays outside China.


Statistics with the Thailand tourism authority show Chinese tourists made more than 100,000 trips to Phuket Island in 2005, and the figure is expected to top 150,000 this year.


A Chinese expert said China's holidays have benefited more and more neighboring countries since China began its first full week holiday to celebrate National Day in October 1999.


Having an entire week off means that Chinese tourists have enough time to head out the country. During this week's golden holiday, the neighboring countries have been the top choices for Chinese tourists, according to latest figures from the National Tourism Administration.


The Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, have attracted the majority of Chinese tourists, said the tourism authority.


Chinese tourists have been the main source for increased profits of scenic spots, restaurants and department stores in Singapore, the authority said.


Singapore has also become a stop for Chinese tourists who are visiting countries in Africa or around the Indian Ocean. The World Tourism Organization predicts China will become a major exporter of tourists in 10 years, which will help boost Singapore's role as an international shipping center.


The Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan are also attracting Chinese tourists during the golden holidays.


Prior to the May Day holiday, ROK airlines announced that the number of air routes between China and ROK would increase to 50 in the coming five years.


In addition, economic centers of China, ROK and Japan, namely Shanghai, Pusan and Osaka, have formed a "tourism triangle" and plan to jointly explore the tourist market in Europe after the May Day holiday.


Liu Bin, an economist on tourism, said with summer approaching, the cooler parts of northern Asia represented by Russia and Mongolia will become new attractions for Chinese tourists.


Sources said some two-way tourist organizations are busy organizing more Chinese tourists to visit Russia this year amid the celebration of Year of Russia in China.


Some Chinese airlines have moved to ensure a share in the new tourism market. The China Southern Airlines opened its fifth China-Russia route this week, linking Beijing with Irkutsk. Hainan Airlines also announced the imminent opening of a route to St. Petersburg in Russia.


Liu said China's flood of tourists will not only benefit the economies of neighboring countries, but also work as a ligament to strengthen friendship between China and its neighbors.


(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2006)


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