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Tourism recovering in quake-hit Sichuan
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The tourism industry is recovering with more scenic spots reopened in the quake-hit Sichuan Province, the provincial tourism authorities have said.

Except for some affected areas in Aba Prefecture, all scenic sites and routes in the province had reopened, the Sichuan Tourism Bureau announced on Saturday.

The newly reopened areas were mainly in six severely hit areas such as Mianyang and Deyang after they passed the safety checks of infrastructure facilities, roads, hotels and buildings in scenic spots.

Zhang Gu, the bureau's director, said all scenic areas were classified into "red regions" which were dangerous and banned visitors' entry and "green" ones which were safe.

Tourism was almost a stand-down in many areas in Sichuan after the May 12 devastating earthquake which has left nearly 70,000 people dead.

"The large-scale reopening of tourism market will help restore the province's tourism confidence," said the bureau's deputy director Wu Mian. "More importantly, it is to convey to tourists the message that tourism is safe in Sichuan."

In fact, tourism has already been recovering in some less affected areas in the province prior to the large-scale reopening.

Emei Mountain, famous for its beautiful sceneries and Buddhist heritage, in the southwest of the province, hosted more than 12,000 tourists, on July 5 and 6 alone, even eight percent more than that of the same period last year.

Travel agencies in the provincial capital Chengdu say tour groups to the scenic spots in Sichuan have been increasing sharply since the beginning of July.

Tour groups from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand have also come to Sichuan after the quake, according to provincial tourism chief Zhang Gu.

Many tourist sites and hotels in Sichuan have offered discounts in tickets and accommodation to attract visitors.

(Xinhua News Agency July 13, 2008)

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