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Shops in scenic town back in business (3)

By HE DAN and WEN XINZHENG (China Daily)

11:38, April 13, 2013

"In the past, I heard some tourists complain that they felt disappointed after visiting Fenghuang as there was not much to see here. Later, I realized that some illegal travel agencies charged tourists admission fees for scenic spots but simply skipped the spots that charge fees and took tourists to free ones," she said, adding that she believed the new rule will help combat such practices.

She also said the additional revenue will help motivate the government to invest in maintenance of the old town.

Cai stressed that the new rule is introduced to regulate the tourism market, and will help to protect the old town and benefit local business in the long run.

"We will not abandon the new policy but we will make some changes to the guidelines for implementing the rule," he said without elaborating.

Ren Zhenjun, director of the county's tourism administration, said it is not feasible for Fenghuang to copy the example of West Lake, a well-known tourist destination in Hangzhou, where admission is free, according to a report in the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald on Wednesday.

He said local residents in Hangzhou are the main visitors and leading consumers at West Lake, and the Hangzhou government owns a lot of property near the lake so it can guarantee sufficient revenue from rentals to cover maintenance costs, a different situation to that in Fenghuang.

He predicted a yearly increase of 10 percent in tourists visiting Fenghuang by the end of 2013, and said the number of visitors will rebound after July following a short-term decline.

"The business (of shops) may suffer in the beginning, but we should look forward."

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