May 9, 2006

Chinese tourists lost in their own backyard

BEIJING (Reuters) - More than 3,000 local tourists got lost
in the crowds on Beijing's vast Tiananmen Square over the
week-long May Day public holiday, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

Mobile police units set up on the square, south of the
Forbidden City, handled 3,568 missing person cases, with 1,661
made on May Day alone, the Beijing News said.

According to police equipped with loudspeakers and able to
broadcast missing person messages in multiple dialects, 70
percent of those temporarily lost were adults.

Some people lacked traveling experience, and some older
people and children couldn't remember their relatives' phone
numbers, the Beijing News quoted Wang, a policeman, as saying.

Several million people visited Beijing during the May
Golden Week -- a national holiday in which 120 million trips
were taken across the country, the China Daily said on Monday.

China's week-long May Day, Lunar New Year and National Day
holidays -- established in 1999 to stimulate spending -- spur
one of the world's biggest human migrations as millions travel
home, to tourist sites and increasingly, abroad.

But despite burgeoning travel-related revenues -- May
Golden Week generating a record 40 billion yuan ($5 billion)
alone -- official media have raised concerns about frequent
traffic accidents and the strain on tourist infrastructure and
heritage sites.

Frustrated domestic tourists have dubbed the vacation
"Golden Porridge" -- a play on words referring to the hot and
sticky swarm of people flooding tourist spots and public