Hong Kong pop singer and actor Andy Lau waves a national flag during an event to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China in Hong Kong, October 3, 2009 (AGENCIES)
More Chinese chose to travel to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional event marking family reunions, on Saturday, as it fell within the "golden week" holiday.
The 119 tourist attractions monitored by the country's travel authorities reported about 3.47 million tourist arrivals as of 6 pm on Saturday, up 17.76 percent compared with the previous day, according to the National Tourism Administration.
The outing spree continued yesterday, as 3.72 million people visited the 119 places as of 6 pm.
The National Day holiday, which falls in the first week of October, and the Mid-Autumn Festival, which this year fell on Saturday, altogether provide an eight-day holiday from Oct 1 to 8.
Traditionally, Mid-Autumn, a festival for family reunions, is always observed at home by eating moon cakes. But in recent years, more people are traveling partly thanks to the government's decision to make the festival a public holiday.
From Friday to Saturday, about 3 million people from across the country visited Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, where the National Day parade was held on Oct 1 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China, Beijing Daily reported.
Citizens elbowed their way through the crowds to take pictures in front of a giant flowerpot and colorful floats on the square.
"It's a rare chance for me to visit Tian'anmen Square, especially after the parade and gala for the 60th anniversary of our nation was held days before," said Zhang Li, 55, from Shanxi province.
About 7 million tourists may visit Beijing during the holiday, a 40-percent jump from last year, according to an estimate by the local government last month.
Children sitting on the shoulders of their parents share the delight of visiting Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, October 4, 2009. [China Daily]
Ningbo, Zhejiang province, saw nearly 600,000 tourist arrivals on the Mid-Autumn Festival, a 35.9-percent increase year on year.
More than 10,000 travelers gathered on Saturday at Tianshan Grand Canyon, 40 km from Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, where they rode horses by the canyon's Swan Lake in the day and climbed the mountain to view the bright moon.
Many people from Fujian province chose to spend the day in Taiwan. Xiamen Travel Agency alone organized more than 50 tourist groups to the island for the holiday.
Some tourist cities also made special offers to attract visitors. Hangzhou, a famous tourism spot in Zhejiang province distributed 50,000 discount coupons.
The National Day celebration and the eight-day holiday might trigger a tourism boom, boosting consumer spending and helping the economy recover, Bloomberg News reported.
"October holiday consumption will be stronger than a year ago with the fiscal stimulus supporting consumer spending and boosting household confidence," said Sherman Chan, an economist with Moody's Economy.com.
"The economy is recovering well, meaning that employment conditions have improved," she said.
More than 200 million people may travel during the eight-day holiday, up 13 percent from last year, the China Tourism Academy, a research institute under the National Tourism Administration, predicted last month. Tourism revenue will probably jump 25 percent to more than 100 billion yuan ($14.7 billion), it estimated.
The holiday will be a "peak time for tourism and consumption," the academy said.
China's retail sales rose 21 percent to 420 billion yuan during the holiday last year.
(China Daily October 5, 2009)