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Expo causes sharp surge in travel costs

2010. 30 June

( Expo 2010 Shanghai visitors will likely see a 20 percent jump in travel agency fees in the Yangtze River Delta Region before additional increases in the coming months.

Suzhou Youth Travel Service Company sales manager Zuo Jing said a day trip to Shanghai from Suzhou costs 238 yuan ($35) per person on weekdays and up to 258 yuan on weekends, which is 40 yuan more than during the same period last year. A two-day weekend trip with stays in a three-star hotel will cost 758 yuan and a five-star hotel will cost 858 yuan.

Despite the sharp increases, tourists are still heading for Shanghai, especially students on summer vacation.

While travel costs to Shanghai have risen, ticket availability has decreased in some nearby cities. The 160-yuan standard day tickets are nearly sold out in such places as Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing and Suzhou.

The Ningbo Branch of China Telecommunications, which is a designated ticket outlet, said they only have three-day and seven-day tickets left. The Nanjing and Suzhou branches of China Mobile Communications Corp, which also sell tickets, said they totally sold out by April 23.

Shanghai's increased popularity as a destination has drawn tourists away from traditional travel spots, such as Hainan and Yunnan provinces, and Shandong province's coastal resort town Qingdao.

Suzhou Youth Travel Service Company sales executive Kong Wei says 20 percent fewer clients are going to Qingdao this year compared with recent years.

"Usually, it attracts many students on summer holiday," Kong said.

There is even a disparity among attractions in Shanghai. The Bund, Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center are more popular because they are close to the Expo Garden. Other spots, such as Shanghai Changfeng Park and Oriental Land, are relatively empty.

The number of Expo visitors reached nearly 20 million by Monday, the Bureau of Shanghai Expo Coordination said. Most out-of-town tourists are from Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Of 915,000 presale group tickets sold outside of the city, about 570,000 went to Jiangsu and 310,000 went to Zhejiang.

About 710,000 overseas guests visited Shanghai in May, a 46 percent increase over the same time last year, the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration said.