If you were planning on doing a spot of sightseeing today, you might want to hold your horses 'til tomorrow as May 19, 2011 sees the launch of China's very first National Tourism Day... or not.
Announced back in April, the date was chosen in honor of historic Chinese travel writer Xu Xiake (1587-1641), with May 19 supposedly the date he got busy on his famous "Travel Notes of Xu Xiake", one of the first books to map out China's geography.
Designated as a day to promote tourism, Zhu Shanzhong of the China National Tourism Administration explained, "China has entered a period of mass tourism, so we hope to promote tourism by establishing National Tourism Day, with the aim of supporting tourist initiatives throughout the country."
However, despite announcements that many destinations and attractions in China would offer free entry or large discounts in recognition of the day and to promote local tourism, it seems that few popular attractions are on board with the idea.
Earlier this week Shanghai Science and Technology Museum who said "It's impossible for us to waive entry fees even for a day. Besides, we already allow children under the height of 1.3 meters in for free, and the group is large enough as it is." And a quick look at the Shanghai's official tourist website shows that most other major attractions have followed suit with either very, very small discounts given or none at all.
Promotions in other cities in China are listed here but it's a pretty disparate bunch and hard work to slog through.... hopefully the supporting civilized travel initiative aimed at "raising the quality of Chinese citizens traveling civilization Action Plan" will have a bit more success!