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​20,000 Tourists Flock To Chinese National Park After Free Entry Offered

​20,000 Tourists Flock To Chinese National Park After Free Entry Offered

Video footage shows the moment 20,000 tourists in China packed into a national park after free entry was offered.

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Huangshan National Park in China's eastern province of Anhui closed its doors on 25 January as the coronavirus epidemic surged in China.

Less than a month later, on 21 February the park began welcoming visitors again - but slashed the number of people allowed in by reducing its usual 50,000-visitor capacity to 20,000.

However, recently the 190 RMB (£21) entrance fee usually charged for the Huangshan scenic area - also called the Yellow Mountains - was waived for Anhui residents, in a bid to boost the tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19.

This meant visitors were seen cramming into the national park over the weekend, with tens of thousands of people queuing shoulder-to-shoulder to get in - many choosing not to adhere to social distancing guidelines or to cover their faces.

Huangshan National Park waived its £21 fee for Anhui residents, leading to massive queues. Credit: AsiaWire
Huangshan National Park waived its £21 fee for Anhui residents, leading to massive queues. Credit: AsiaWire
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Both gates eventually had to close after visitor numbers peaked at 20,000, with droves of tourists also clogging up pathways inside the mountainous tourist site.

The park's official Weibo account issued a number of statements over the long weekend, as the country celebrated Qingming Festival - also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day - on 4 April.

It had been ferrying 5,300 tourists to its ticket gates every hour using 120 shuttle buses, before it started encouraging people to visit other sites nearby after it hit 80 percent capacity at 9.22am that day.

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Just an hour later, the ticket gates then closed as the full 20,000 capacity was reached, forcing officials to begin turning tourists away.

Officials were forced to start turning tourists away when the site reached it's 20,000 capacity. Credit: Asia Wire
Officials were forced to start turning tourists away when the site reached it's 20,000 capacity. Credit: Asia Wire

Huangshan National Park also issued an apology to the large crowds unable to enter, saying the flow of visitors had been slowed down due to health screening requirements, as each visitor had to present their health status and undergo temperature tests.

Those with symptoms were immediately turned away.

The park has been criticised for its enticing free entrance policy at a time when spreading the disease is still a concern, with Huangshan being one of many scenic areas offering low prices or free entrance to help attract visitors.

Between 1 and 14 April, residents of Anhui can visit 31 scenic areas in or around Huangshan free of charge.

Many national parks in the area are looking to entice tourists with free entry. Credit: AsiaWire
Many national parks in the area are looking to entice tourists with free entry. Credit: AsiaWire

The province - which borders Covid-19 epicentre Hubei - has reported 990 cases and six deaths, with Anhui's last new infection being reported on 27 February.

In a statement on 5 April, Huangshan National Park said it would continue to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing where possible by increasing its number of volunteers.

In a bid to help stop tourists gathering in large numbers, the park also said it would improve crowd flow and control.

It's okay to not panic. LADbible and UNILAD's aim with our series, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we're facing. For more information from the World Health Organisation on coronavirus, click here.

Featured Image Credit: AsiaWire

Topics: World News, News, Coronavirus, China

Jess Hardiman

Jess is a journalist at LADbible who graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Film Studies, English Language and Linguistics - indecisiveness at its finest, right there. She also works for FOODbible and its sister page Seitanists, which are both a safe haven for her to channel a love for homemade pasta, fennel and everything else in between. You can contact Jess at [email protected]