Forbidden City visitor cap to stay during holiday

Updated: 2015-09-28 07:56

By Su Zhou(China Daily)

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Huge crowds expected daily; most buy their tickets online in advance

The Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum, will not lift the cap on the number of daily visitors allowed entry during "Golden Week" - the National Day holiday that lasts seven days.

The upper limit for daily visitors from Oct 1 to 7 will stay at 80,000, of which 50,000 must be booked in advance online using true identities.

According to a statement released by the Palace Museum, the online platform will allow 30,000 visitors in the morning and 20,000 in the afternoon each day.

The Palace Museum has grappled with overwhelming crowds for years. More than 15 million people visited in 2014, topping all museums in the world. Second on the list is the Louvre in Paris, which saw 9.2 million visitors last year.

The Palace Museum kicked off the policy capping the number of visitors on June 13. The crowd alarm was sounded 25 times since the summer peak season started.

It is expected that during this year's National Day holiday, crowds will be a challenge to control, given there are currently several exhibits that have already been drawing huge crowds, including the display of nearly 300 treasures, the paintings Along the River During the Qingming Festival and Five Oxen, and the calligraphy piece Letter to Boyuan.

The Palace Museum said in the statement that it hopes the number of visitors during the holiday week will drop to ease the strain.

According to the museum, total visits during the weeklong holiday in 2012 was 800,000. The number was 710,000 in 2013 and 640,000 in 2014.

If the daily limit could be kept under 80,000, the museum would accept a maximum of 560,000 during the entire week.

To prevent uninformed and eager tourists from being kept out at the door, the Palace Museum has adopted several measures, including informing all tour guides in Beijing and all travel agencies in the northern part of the country and making arrangements with the assistance of online travel service providers to ensure tourists avoid peak hours.

To narrow the gap between peak and low season and reduce the hordes of tourists during high season, the museum will also consider a continuation of its program that made the first Wednesday of each month free entry.

The free-visit day ran from December 2014 to April 2015. The museum said it will unveil more details soon.

The China National Tourism Administration drafted the standard for capacity limits at scenic spots nationwide in July.

The top-rated scenic spots in more than 30 provincial regions around the country all set a daily limit.

Many scenic spots shut down their ticket selling spots during the National Day holiday.

Ctrip, one of China's leading online travel service providers, based in Shanghai, estimated that scenic spots including the Palace Museum, West Lake, Gulangyu Island of Xiamen, Jiuzhaigou Valley of Sichuan province and the Bund in Shanghai will be overcrowded in the coming holiday.

Fang Hongfeng, head of ticket department at Ctrip, said China should encourage all scenic spots to adopt online booking systems that, he said, will lower the cost for tourists and help scenic spots monitor the traffic.

(China Daily 09/28/2015 page6)