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China's Service Industry Shakes off SARS Impact
When severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was controlled, its impact on China's retail, tourism and other service industries also began to fall away.

Statistics show that since most Chinese restaurants reopened in May, their turnover climbed more than 15 percent in the past month. Especially in Beijing, the local catering industry surged 50 percent in June, and some restaurants increased turnover several times over.

Sales were also running hot in most department stores and supermarkets in China. An investigation of 100 department stores showed that after a one month sales promotion in May, most department stores increased their sales by about 10 percent in June, compared with the same period of last year.

In Beijing Zhongyou Department Store, sales in June were double the figure for the same month last year.

Kaiyuan Department Store in Xi'an also reached a record turnover from June 13 to June 15 totaling nearly 40 million yuan ( about US$4.8 million).

With the increasing number of college students on vacation and tourists, the transportation sector also met with the first travel peak for the summer after SARS.

National railways handled more than 15 million passenger journeys during the first six days of July, nearly the same volume of last year, said China's Ministry of Railways.

During the two-month summer peak season for passenger transport starting on July 1, railways across the country are expected to handle at least 158.4 million passenger journeys.

As opposed to the rapid response of China's catering, retail and transportation industries, tourism in China has seen a slow increase after the epidemic was controlled.

Both Beijing and Shanghai have received their first overseas tourist groups, a step marking the reopening of the overseas tourism market in China.

National tourism and suburban tours have become popular in China. So far, daily tourists to Shanghai's Jinmao Tower, the tallest building in China, are about 70-80 percent of the peak level, better than expected.

Sixteen cities in the Yangtze River delta in east China recently signed a declaration of cooperation to promote tourism development in the region, calling for the building of China's first tourism zone across several provinces.

Zhangjun, assistant chairman of the China Hotel Association, said a revival plan for building "green hotels" is being implemented among the national hotels, a move to improve the hotel 's service level to attract more business people and tourists.

A tourism expert said that the whole tourism market was expecting a new peak this summer and the National Day holiday.

The service industry has witnessed rapid growth in recent years and has become a major channel to improve employment. China's economists held that the recovery of China's service industry will help ease pressure on employment in China.

(People's Daily July 10, 2003)

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