Three Gorges Dam authority makes admission free for domestic tourists

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-26 0:48:01

Starting Thursday, Chinese tourists will be able to visit the Three Gorges Dam, the country's largest hydropower project, free of charge, announced the China Three Gorges Corporation and Yichang government in Hubei Province at a press conference Wednesday.

This scenic spot will be free to all Chinese tourists, including residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, while foreign visitors still need to pay 105 yuan ($17) for a ticket.

The maximum daily number of tourists will be restricted to 40,000. The dam currently receives an average of 1.8 million tourists every year, reported the Xinhua News Agency.

Chinese visitors can either make a reservation online or use their ID cards for admission on the spot.

"This decision's aim is to let more Chinese people learn about the project and witness the great achievements China has made since the reform and opening-up," said Sha Xianhua, a deputy general manager of the China Three Gorges Corporation. 

Ticket prices for the dam have been controversial in recent years as they increased from 30 yuan to 105 yuan.

The corporation officially responded in a document delivered to the media in the press conference, saying that "since the construction of the dam was at a critical point in previous years, we were unable to fulfill tourists' demand in consideration of their safety. "

"This move will bring an end to years of disputes and can also stimulate the local tourism industry," Liu Simin, a tourism expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

However, Liu said it would not set a precedent for other popular scenic spots, since ticket revenue from such sites typically goes into local governments' pockets, and local authorities are disinclined to give up revenue sources in an age of squeezed budgets.

The designated scenic area around the dam, a 5A-Class tourism destination, has been a backbone of the local tourism industry since 2007, according to the dam corporation's official website.

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