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Experts sound alarm over ticket price hikes

By Zhang Zihan (Global Times)

08:17, April 08, 2013

Experts said China's travel industry still depends too much on revenue from ticket sales, in the wake of the ticket price raising spree seen in many tourist attractions ahead of the three-day Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday.

The prices of many major attractions across the country have soared. A tour bus service in Laoshan Mountain, Shandong Province, jumped 167 percent from 15 yuan ($2.42) per person to 40 yuan.

The Fenghuang Ancient Town in Hunan Province will start to charge 148 yuan for entrance on April 10, and the admission ticket at Slender West Lake in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, will see a 30-yuan increase to 150 yuan.

Fenghuang and Slender West Lake have already surpassed the price of many world-class attractions. For example, the ticket price of the Louvre Museum in Paris is 11 euro ($14.30 or 89 yuan).

Wang Qiyan, director of the Research Center of Leisure Economy of China with the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that officials need to control these frightening price hikes.

"The prices of certain attractions have already gone so far beyond the ability of ordinary people that it has to be controlled to ensure the market develops in a healthy way," said Wang.

Chen Shaofeng, deputy dean of the Institute for Cultural Industries at Peking University, told the Global Times that China's tourism industry still relies on the income of ticket sales, a model that is not healthy.

In 2011, ticket sales represented more than half of the tourism income in 13 provinces, according to the Beijing-based International Finance News, noting that in more than 80 percent of provinces ticket sales represented more than 40 percent of the yearly income of tourism.

"A diversified industry is needed which not only has ticket sales income but also other services," said Chen.

During the past holiday, a record-breaking number of 29.3 million travelers have taken trains, said railway authorities Sunday, which increased by 8 percent compared to a year ago and higher than any tomb-sweeping holiday in previous years.

An increasing number of tourists have led to more income. The total income from tourism in Chongqing during the holiday was up 13.62 percent to 3.51 billion yuan, compared with a year ago.

The city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, shows the income from tourism during the holiday surged 23.1 percent year-on-year to 1.99 billion yuan, while the same figure compiled by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development is 1.145 million yuan, up 15.4 percent.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, car accidents involving casualties have decreased by 26.3 percent nationwide.

This is the first Tomb Sweeping Day holiday since expressway tolls were lifted for passenger cars.

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