Cities team up to bolster Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail

09:05, May 31, 2011      

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Cities along Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway have formed a tour alliance ahead of the route's official launch in June. The alliance consists of Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing, Jinan, Cangzhou and Bengbu. The trains will travel through several cities in Shandong province with well-known tourist sites, such as Confucian temple in Qufu and Mount Tai in Tai'an. Many travel agencies in Shanghai have eyed the business opportunities brought by high-speed railway.

It may take tourist merely three or four hours to arrive at scenic spots in Shandong by high-speed train. Many travel agencies in Shanghai are exploring new tourist routes that are expected to be launched in parallel with the full use of high-speed route.

"Beijing will be a spotlight after the railway opens to public," said Zhou Xiang, deputy general manager in charge of domestic travel lines in Shanghai Spring International Travel Services, Ltd. He believes that the high-speed train, which is still a new thing to many, could help Beijing to lure tourists. The trains have several stations in Shandong, therefore the agency plans to promote travel lines there.

"The cities along the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway abound in tourism resources, like Qufu's Confucian temple, Tai'an's Mount Tai and the Cave of Fireflies in Linyi. And Shandong's hot springs remain unknown for many people," said Zhou Xiang.

Zhou expects to see an increasing number of tourists turning to inland cities instead of coastal areas in Shandong after the high-speed route in service., China's leading online travel services supplier, said it would also open new travel lines related to high-speed railways in Shandong.

Restraining factors

The agencies admitted that high-speed railway's role in boosting tourism is not in full swing. For example, few travel groups would choose high-speed trains on the routes between Shanghai to Nanjing and Shanghai to Hangzhou because of the high ticket price.

The travel agencies believe the Beijing-Shanghai route has an edge considering the distance. The opening date, ticket price and purchasing procedure are the issues that are the greatest causes for concern among agencies. It is estimated that the price will be set around 500 yuan to 600 yuan while the current price of traveling in Shandong for Shanghai tourists is only 1,100 to 1,200 Chinese yuan. That means tourists will pay more if they take high-speed train. But the high-speed train will curtail the time spent on the track to from one night to only three hours.

Industrial insiders foresaw a strong demand for tickets. Travel agencies' ability to organize high-speed travel will be restricted by ticket supply and an ID-based system to buy ticket.

By Chen Lidan, People's Daily Online
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