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Hefty subsidy sought to salvage Xinjiang tourism
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The tourism authority of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is seeking a 5-million-yuan subsidy from the regional government to help travel agencies survive in the wake of the July 5 violence.

The tourism bureau has submitted a raft of proposals for the restoration of the industry to the regional government.

The bureau said the subsidy, worth 731,800 U.S. dollars, was necessary to rescuing tourism-related companies paralyzed by the unrest that left at least 192 people dead, said Chi Chongqing, the bureau's Party chief.

The funding would subsidize tourist agencies or redeem planned ticket price cuts in many scenic spots, said Chi.

In addition, each traveler who visits Xinjiang before Aug. 31 would get a 10-yuan subsidy per day under the proposal, Chi said, predicting the move could attract 50,000 tourists during this period.

The document suggested that all the top-level tourist destinations in Xinjiang cut ticket prices by half.

The bureau is also negotiating with airlines about fare cuts to attract more passengers.

About 3,400 domestic and overseas tourist groups, comprising 200,000 travelers, had canceled tours as of Sunday, said Chi.

Xinjiang is estimated to have lost 1 billion yuan in revenue if each traveler had spent 5,000 yuan, he said, forecasting losses of 5 billion yuan this year.

"This is an active action and must have some positive effects to the industry," said Zheng Sui, general manager with the Xinjiang office of the China Youth Travel Service.

On Wednesday, travel agencies in Guangdong Province, southern China, resumed bookings for tours to the region, after a week-long suspension.

"Many people just called for consultations, but I think the first tourist group will leave for Xinjiang early next week as the situation in the region is returning to normal," said Wen Shuang, vice manager with the domestic tour department of Guangzhilu International Travel Service.

"We plan to broadcast promotional videos on TV and dispatch sales staff to other regions across China soon," Chi said.

Xinjiang's neighboring regions, including Tibet, Qinghai and Ningxia, have received rising numbers of tourists this month, as travelers sought to visit the substitute destinations.

(Xinhua News Agency July 16, 2009)

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