Shops in scenic town back in business

Updated: 2013-04-13 01:33

By HE DAN in Beijing and WEN XINZHENG in Changsha (China Daily)

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Shops in scenic town back in business

Shop owners block tourist boats in protest at a new government policy to charge an admission fee to the scenic town of Fenghuang in Hunan province. They fear the charge will deter tourists. YI MO / CHINA NEWS SERVICE 

Thousands stage protest after entry charge introduced at ancient site

Most shop owners in a scenic town in Hunan province resumed business on Friday after a one-day strike to protest against an entry charge to the town was imposed by the county government.

They fear the admission charge will lead to a drop in tourists and that their businesses will be affected.

Cai Long, deputy head of the county government, told China Daily on Friday the county government will continue the controversial policy but make some adjustments as debate over the charge continues.

Liu Jianling, a clerk at a silver accessory shop in Fenghuang county, said most stores in the main shopping street had reopened by 3 pm. About 80 percent of shops in the street, including the one Liu works for, closed and many boats stopped picking up tourists on Thursday in opposition to the new charge, the 19-year-old said.

"Most shops reopened today but business was so slow that we only had one sale," she said. "Customer numbers were way down on a normal Friday when tourists start to flood in for the weekend."

She said no officials have visited traders in the old town to discuss the new policy.

Under the new policy, which took effect on Wednesday, tourists must pay an entrance fee of 148 yuan ($24) to visit the old town of Fenghuang, which includes admission to 10 scenic areas.

Previously, entry to the town was free but tourists had to buy tickets for each scenic spot they visited.

Liu said: "I don't like the new policy because a large number of visitors I meet here don't fancy doing too much sightseeing. They just want to spend some time to relax in this historical town. The admission charge for entering the old town will discourage many tourists from coming."

On Thursday, crowds gathered on roads and the riverbank to protest, while dozens of police with shields maintained order. Photos of the protest spread online.

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