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02/08/2010

Dalian tourism

Tourists continue to flock to the northeastern summer resort of Dalian despite the recent oil spill caused by two pipelines that exploded in the city's Xingang port on July 16.

As scheduled, the 12th China International Beer Festival began on Thursday evening. Local news reported that 180,000 visitors attended the first night of the 12-day gala.

An Xiaojun, 20, and eight relatives came from Yingkou of Liaoning province to Dalian specially for the festival.

"I heard that it is fun and just came to enjoy myself," she said.

Georg Huber, a representative of the Munich Oktoberfest beer festival, told China Daily that news of the blast, which triggered a fire and an oil spill, was reported in Germany.

"But it was positive news, since the accident has been brought under control," Huber said.

Tourism in the city was affected during the first few days of the cleanup operation, with some travel services and hotel rooms being canceled, said Yi Jun, director of Dalian travel and tourism bureau.

"It soon started to get better. Now it is almost back to normal," said Yi, who reported that Fujiazhuang Park and Xianghai Square in downtown Dalian both received 60,000 visitors on Saturday.

The occupancy rate of the five-star Furama Hotel Dalian reached 90 percent on the same day after dropping in the aftermath of the accident, said Sun Yuanba, Furama's marketing director.

Although consumers initially worried whether Dalian seafood was polluted by the spill, they seem to have laid their concerns to rest as the local fare continues to be in high demand.

"The TV news said it is safe to eat the seafood. I don't think it's something to worry about," said a middle-aged woman, surnamed Li.

However, Wang Lianwen, who has a craze for seafood and swimming, said he will not be enjoying the sea near Dalian this year.

"I drove to Pulandian, which is located on the Bohai Sea, to swim and eat seafood yesterday," said Wang.

"Unlike the Yellow Sea near Dalian, the Bohai Sea is not polluted," he said.

Oil workers, soldiers, fishermen and citizens joined forces to minimize the impact of the oil on the sea.

Dai Yulin, deputy mayor of Dalian, said the oil spill had largely been cleaned up by July 25, with no pollution spreading to the Bohai Sea.

Following the spill, the Dalian Environmental Protection Volunteers Association, an environmental-protection group, immediately engaged its emergency response mechanism and organized volunteers to help clean up oil slicks as well as the beach, said Chen Jiangning, secretary-general of the association.

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