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Plentiful Preparations Begin Early for Spring Festivities

Chinese vacationers are gearing up to enjoy the coming week-long Spring Festival, which begins on February 12.

Although there are several weeks before the Chinese Lunar New Year, many Chinese people are making preparations for their holiday travel plans, especially those who are eyeing distant destinations.

So far, about 30,000 Beijing residents have booked overseas tours during the Spring Festival.

The China Travel Service has received approximately 200 customers per day in recent weeks booking for overseas tours - including destinations of Hong Kong and Macao - during Spring Festival, the travel agency's Dun Jidong said.

Travelling abroad has become popular in recent years.

This year's peak period for people booking up to travel abroad during the week-long holiday came slightly earlier than normal.

"We received customers booking holidays abroad during the Spring Festival as early as last November," said Tang Luohong, an employee of the Overseas Department with the China International Travel Service.

Early preparation guarantees travellers choose their best travel route and time, and leaves them enough time to handle passport and visa issues, Tang said.

More than 5,000 people have booked overseas tours with the travel agency, a 20 percent surge compared with the same period last year, Tang said.

Southeast Asian nations - such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand - Australia and New Zealand remain the hottest tourist destinations for Chinese vacationers, Dun said. Although South Africa and Turkey were granted approved-destination status for Chinese tourists late last month by the China National Tourism Administration, tourism administrators are still in the process of finalizing detailed issues, such as tourist visas, routes and accommodation.

Chinese tourists will be able to visit more than 20 countries or regions once these issues have been resolved.

The country's most favoured domestic tourist destinations, such as Beijing, Dalian, Shanghai, Xi'an, Guilin and Kunming, are expected to attract many tourists, Dun estimated.

The peak booking period for domestic travel routes will occur in one or two weeks, he said.

Central government has urged local governments to pay more attention to safety in entertainment venues and tourist attractions as the Spring Festival approaches. Police, civil aviation, railway and tourism departments have been asked to work hard to ensure safe and happy holidays for everyone.

To ensure travellers have a safe, enjoyable and high-quality holiday, a State-level special office was set up to co-ordinate the work of 14 related ministries under the State Council, and it will release the latest information for tourists taking advantage of the week-long holiday.

(China Daily January 24, 2002)

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