Beijing throws party in bid to revive tourism industry

  • ASEAN+
  • Sunday, 06 Jul 2003

BEIJING: The beer flowed, acrobats flipped and traditional Chinese instruments sang out as Beijing tried to boost its SARS-battered tourism industry with a bash for foreign visitors at the Great Hall of the People. 

More than 500 tourists from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea were treated to a banquet and show on Friday – a week after the World Health Organisation lifted a travel advisory on Beijing that had devastated the Chinese capital's economy. 

Beijing tourism officials said they hoped publicity from the banquets would spread the word that the city is a safe place to visit.  

BIG BASH: Tourists Australia and Britain enjoying the lion dance upon their arrival at a hotel in Beijing on Friday.- Appic

They said they planned to offer banquets to a total of 1,500 tourists. 

“Beijing can guarantee you a wonderful, safe visit, and unforgettable memories,'' Tourism Bureau Director Yu Changjiang said in a speech to diners. 

Waiters in black tie served course after course of Chinese delicacies in an enormous third-floor hall in building where China's legislature meets beside Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing. 

Camera crews and photographers milled among diners at red-draped tables, while musicians performed folk songs.  

Beijing offered the banquets to the first tour groups to arrive on Friday. 

“I was gobsmacked when they told us about it,'' said Jan Lokan, from Australia, part of a 30-member tour group who arrived on Friday.  

The group received a police escort from the airport and were greeted with musicians and dancers at their hotel, she said. –AP  

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