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Tours resume to Sichuan as scenic spots reopen
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Local tourists can travel to Sichuan Province again after parts of the region's tourist industry have opened after last month's earthquake, although the two most famous scenic spots, Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong, remain closed.

City travel agencies said the price of Sichuan-bound tourism was expected to drop by 20 to 30 percent to attract tourists back to the region. Shanghai Airlines Holiday Travel Service Co Ltd said it would modify itineraries in Sichuan as some highways had not yet been repaired.

"We used to fly to Chengdu first and then go by bus to scenic areas," said Hu Xin, supervisor of the company's marketing department. "But now we will fly from Chengdu to provincial airports near the scenic areas."

Hu said some scenic spots, such as Siguniang Mountain and Danba, were slightly affected by the earthquake. But in summer and fall, most local tourists preferred to visit Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong.

Spring International Travel Service Co Ltd said tourists may not be satisfied if they only visit Emei Mountain or Leshan Mountain. Zhang Lei, an official with the agency, said it would consider taking smaller tour groups. "Prior to the earthquake, a tour group had to have at least 20 members," Zhang said. "But now, a group can set out as long as 10 people sign up for travel."

Agencies said the safety of Sichuan-bound tourists was guaranteed. They said tourists would stay at hotels near squares, to make it easy for people to find a place to hide if aftershocks hit. They will also stay in rooms lower than the fifth story. Some agencies are offering free accident insurance.

(Shanghai Daily June 16, 2008)

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