Tourism comes to standstill in Xinjiang after riot

Source: Xinhua [14:45 July 11 2009]

Tourism in northwest China's Xinjiang has come to a standstill after the riot in the regional capital Urumqi Sunday, in which 140 people died.

Ma Rui, regional tourism bureau spokesman, said Monday the riot had a "very bad" influence on tourism, and the bureau told travel agencies not to go to sensitive areas.

Travel agencies were counting how many people cancelled their travel plans, Ma said.

Li Hui, an official in Xinjiang Comfort Nature International Travel Co., Ltd, said the agency has cancelled tour routes to Ili and Kashgar.

Li said about 20 tourist groups called the agency to withdraw trips in Xinjiang since 10 p.m. Sunday, shortly after the riot broke out.

The agency receives about 150 calls from potential customers per day and sets up holidays for 40 customers a day. However after the riot it received several calls Monday and there were no holidays sold.

Cai Qinghua, general manager of a tourism company named Baijia that owned 50 travel agencies, said three of its agencies had more than 70 tourists Sunday evening at a location hit hard by the riot.

Cai said she was not sure if there were casualties.

Tourist agencies interviewed said the impact of the riot would be felt at least into the following month.

Meanwhile, the Xinjiang company of China Southern Airlines told Xinhua it has been told to be prepared for possible low season.