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Xinjiang unrest hurts tourism, air transport
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Authorities in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region said Saturday both tourism and air transport have been hurt by the July 5 riot that left 184 dead in Urumqi, the regional capital.

Inamu Nisteen, chief of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Department of Tourism, said at a news briefing that because of the riot, 1,450 tour groups cancelled their plans to visit Xinjiang.

They involved 84,940 travelers, including 4,396 tourists from overseas.

At the moment, 54 tour groups, with 1,221 visitors, including 373 travelers from overseas, were still traveling in Xinjiang, Inamu Nisteen said.

Guan Wuping, head of the Xinjiang Branch with the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, said the unrest harmed civilian air transport in Xinjiang gravely.

"Air travels have dropped significantly after the Urumqi riot," said Guan. He did not give an exact figure.

Li Hui, a staff member of Xinjiang Kanghui Nature International Travel Agency, said that since the riot he had been busy with receiving clients who came to quit their travel.

"We were expecting a rebound of the tourism industry from the financial crisis, but now we have to cancel the tour routes to Yili and Kashgar which we fear are under the potential danger of unrests," Li said.

Cai Qinghua, general manager of Xinjiang Baijia Travel Co. Ltd., said fewer tourists from overseas and outside Xinjiang were expected in the near future.

"Since the region boasts lots of scenic spots, we need confidence and wisdom to overcome the hard time," he said.

Xinjiang covers about 1.66 million square kilometers, one-sixth of the Chinese land territory. It has a population of about 21 million people.

There are 14 airports in service in Xinjiang with the operation of 114 air routes.

(Xinhua News Agency July 13, 2009)

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