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Scenic spots' gridlock triggers criticism


10:29, October 06, 2012

XI'AN -- Scenic sites around China have been overwhelmed by large numbers of visitors during the ongoing Golden Week holiday, triggering complains and criticism by netizens and tourists alike.

About 2,000 tourists were stranded Tuesday afternoon at a cablecar station on Huashan Mountain in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, according to Weng Peng, an official from the scenic spot's management committee.

Some of the tourists protested and asked for a refund after waiting in line for more than three hours at the cablecar's return gate, Weng said.

The incident became a hot topic on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site, after some of the tourists posted pictures and microblog entries detailing their ordeal.

Over 300 police and government employees, as well as a fleet of buses, were dispatched late Tuesday evening to pick up the stranded visitors.

"We are deeply sorry for the congestion that inconvenienced our visitors. We promise to improve our efforts to ensure smooth travel," read an entry on the mountain management committee's official microblog.

The committee said it initiated an emergency response plan on Monday evening to prepare for possible congestion, although it did not issue any alerts to tourists regarding the holiday travel peak.

A total of 119 scenic areas had received 6.04 million tourists as of Wednesday, up 30.64 percentage points year-on-year, according to official statistics.

Experts and netizens criticized the lack of travel alerts, as well as incomplete emergency response plans, that have led to congestion at scenic spots.

Some scenic area managers have forsaken their duties in favor of gaining economic benefit, according to Wang Degang, dean of the tourism management department of Shandong University, as the management committees fear that travel peak alerts might affect visitor flows and subsequently bring profits down.

"It is deceitful to continue to sell tickets after a scenic area's visitor volume has reached capacity," Wang Degang said.

Huashan Mountain was not the only scenic area that received an excessive number of visitors. Beijing's Imperial Palace, as well as the ancient town of Pingyao in North China's Shanxi province, both received five times as many visitors as they could handle, according to government data.

Local governments and management authorities should publicize travel alerts through websites, television broadcasts and microblog posts, said Shi Ying, deputy director of the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences.

Local governments and scenic area managers are responsible for diverting visitor flows to different areas in accordance with the number of visitors they are receiving at the time, Shi said.


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