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Mid-Autumn Lanterns Illuminate 'Golden Week'

Prismy lanterns and bright moon light kindling the Mid-Autumn night Tuesday warmed up an anticipated tourist boom in Macao, which is ready to host 200,000 tourists during the upcoming "Golden Week" holiday period.

This year's Mid-Autumn Festival or Aug. 15 on Lunar Calenda fell close to the National Day on Oct. 1. The festive air ignited by lantern display and fireworks shows came in as a prelude to commence the week-long National Day holiday ending on Oct. 10 in China's mainland.

The mainland's implementation of relaxed individual travel permits to Hong Kong and Macao has made the two special administrative regions more sensitive of the mainland's long holidays than before, since both cities serves as hot tourist destinations for a massive influx of visitors during holidays.

The facilitated individual travel scheme to Hong Kong and Macaowas extended to three cities in southeast China's Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian provinces in July this year after being piloted in 21 cities in Guangdong Province as well as Beijing and Shanghai since last year. The National Day "Golden Week" will be the first major travel spree after the expansion of the scheme this year.

Among the forecast influx of visitor arrivals, about 110,000 are expected to be individual travelers from China's mainland, according to the Macao Tourist Office.

The local carrier Air Macao said that the company will add 54 flights in addition to its regular schedule during the holiday week to accommodate the provisional rise in passenger demand, especially on routes linking Macao with Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province as well as Beijing and Shanghai.

The company has pinched code-share agreements with airlines in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, which would facilitate passengers' demand for package tours grouping travels to Hong Kong and Macao.

The ferry operator between Hong Kong and Macao has also announced to increase some 60 shuttle services on the one-hour jet boat ride between the two cities during the "Golden Week."

By the end of Sept. 19, some 2.4 million individual travelers from China's mainland visited Macao this year, according to Macao's official statistics.

An official tourist market survey showed that mainlanders spent 2,820 patacas (US$352) per capita during their stay in Macao, compared with 894 patacas (US$111) by Hong Kong citizens.

(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2004)


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