Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Curious tourists flock to Hangzhou

Tourists are taking a revenge of sorts on Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

During the G20 Summit earlier this month, most of the city, including its scenic West Lake, was cordoned off to regular tourists as security was tightened for the heads of state attending the meetings.

For the just-ended Mid-Autumn Festival and next month's National Day holidays, it is the tourists' turn to take over China's most famous scenic city. Many of them are drawn to a performance adapted from the spectacular G20 gala.

The number of bookings by domestic visitors traveling on package or self-guided tours to Hangzhou skyrocketed by 218 percent from Sept 10 through Sunday, said Lvmama, an online travel-service provider. The G20 Leaders' Summit ended on Sept 5.

Ctrip, the country's largest online travel agency, reported a surge of 150 percent year-on-year from Sept 13 to 17.

After the G20, some travel agencies immediately launched a one-day tour of Hangzhou, mainly featuring the conference venue of the G20 summit and the part of West Lake where the G20 evening gala, which combined dance and lighting effects, took place.

"We've never launched a one-day Hangzhou tour before. The tour product was created upon consumers' request, and the 200 openings were snapped up quickly," said Xu Xiao, a tour guide in Shangrao, Jiangxi province, with Shanghai Wenrui International Travel Agency.

"The information about this new route to Hangzhou published on our company's WeChat platform was viewed more than five times the average. We estimate that the route will be popular for at least half a year," she added.

Xu guided a tour of about 100 people from Shangrao to Hangzhou on Friday. She said most of the visitors had been to Hangzhou before, but they wanted to watch the performance based on the G20 gala.

Security guards at the scene said more than 100,000 people watched the performance during the national holiday from Thursday through Saturday.

"Hangzhou was overloaded with tourists on those days, and we had a hard time finding a seat in the restaurant and a parking place," said Xu. "We intended to watch another fountain show with lights and music after dinner, but we missed it because of traffic congestion."

Tao Jinxian was one of the tourists guided by Xu. She said there also was an amazing light show on both banks of the Ganjiang River, a major branch of the Yangtze River, in Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi province, but the one in Hangzhou was different because the summit venue is in the background.

"What I see now is what the leaders of 20 countries saw. The trip was well worth it," Tao said.

Hotels and restaurants in Hangzhou witnessed a major boom, which was expected to continue.

Du Lin, director of sales and marketing for Hangzhou InterContinental Hotel, the main venue for the B20 Summit held one day before the G20 Summit, said rooms were fully booked during the Mid-Autumn holiday. For the upcoming National Day holiday, which runs from Oct 1 to 7, bookings are so far 40 percent higher year-on-year.

Kuiyuanguan, a restaurant in Hangzhou, reported a year-on-year rise of 54 percent in sales revenue during the past holiday. "We predict the rise will continue during the National Day holiday," said Zhang Delin, the restaurant's office director.

Ctrip data showed that by Sunday, the number of bookings to Hangzhou for the National Day holiday had already doubled the number from last year, and many of those who placed orders were from such distant places as Tianjin and Chengdu.

Photo: Visitors wait for a fountain show of light and music in Hangzhou. Xu Kangping/For China Daily

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