Record numbers to travel over Golden Week holiday

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China Daily, Apr.24, 2007

The number of people traveling during the coming Golden Week, May 1 to 7, is likely to set a new record, a senior official said.

"People are also likely to spend more on tourism products," said Shao Qiwei, director of the National Tourism Administration, when forecasting the difference that the 20th Golden Week will make at a recent meeting.

"The pressure of guaranteeing safety will also exceed that of previous holidays," he said.

According to official statistics, the number of travelers during the last May Day holiday was 146 million.

In addition to those traveling by road, this year, it is estimated that 3.4 million people will travel by air during the week, a year-on-year increase of 12 percent, said the General Administration of Civil Aviation.

Another 44.5 million people will travel by train, 3.36 million more than for same period last year, the Ministry of Railways estimated.

Based on past experience, the huge flow of human traffic will lead to a shortage of tickets to popular destinations. These destinations have placed a burden on local environmental officials, and a lowering of service standards.

Illegal bus services, unlicensed tour guides and people being cheated have been common complaints.

However, this will not deter people from enjoying the Golden Week break.

In the past 19 Golden Weeks, at least 1.63 billion people have traveled, contributing 670 billion yuan ($86.81 billion) to the economy.

The Golden Weeks have accounted for a quarter of the domestic tourism market. The numbers of people traveling and revenue have both achieved double-digit growth in the past six years.

Vice-Premier Wu Yi acknowledged the achievements of the Golden Week holidays at a meeting with 17 government departments.

She said the holidays had stimulated the demands of consumers, and tourism had become the new economic growth model in many places.

But she urged efforts be made to guarantee the safety of travelers, especially "to remove the hidden dangers for those who travel in their own cars and rented recreational vehicles, and those who explore an undeveloped sites without guides".

As this year's May Day holiday coincides with the sixth rail speedup, she asked measures be taken to coordinate various transport facilities to ensure safe and smooth journeys. She also asked people not to use illegal transport services and to be vigilant on the roads.

The Ministry of Railways estimated that as most travelers will use trains, the Golden Week for railways could last as long as 10 days.

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