BEIJING, Aug. 3 -- The spectacle of the longest solar eclipse of this century also translated into big business for China's tourism and
Two days before the solar eclipse on July 22, hotels
were full in Yangtze River Delta cities, considered an optimal viewing location.
A seal wears sunglasses during a solar
eclipse event at Sunshine International Aquarium in Tokyo, Japan,
Wednesday, July 22, 2009.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Scientists, astronomy buffs and tourists crowded into
Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou.
The Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration
reported that the city welcomed 241 foreign tour groups and estimated that 6,484
foreign tourists came to Shanghai for the viewing.
About 80 percent of those tourists were from Japan,
the tourism administration reported.
Large travel agencies in Shanghai, Nanjing and
Hangzhou reported that more than 30,000 overseas visitors arrived at Yangtze
River Delta destinations before the solar eclipse.
Of that 30,000, 25,000 were Japanese visitors and
5,000 had traveled from the United States, the agencies reported.
Tourism industry watchers estimated the tourists
spent about 10,000 yuan each on flights, hotels and food.
Tongling, a little known city in Anhui province,
became a household name when the international news media promoted its
designation by the National Astronomical Observatories as a top viewing spot.
Tourism industry watchers estimated that the
publicity translated into a 50 million yuan windfall in tourist spending in
Although people were only able to watch a partial
solar eclipse in Beijing, the event proved big business in China's capital, too.
Zhu Jin, head of the Beijing Planetarium, said
thousands of foreign visitors came to the planetarium and the Beijing Ancient
Observatory in the days before the solar eclipse.
Xiao Qiu, owner of a small store on fashionable
Dongsi Street, said he enjoyed strong sales of eclipse-related souvenirs.
"It was not just solar eclipse observation equipment,
T-shirts and caps. Mobile phone pendants with a logo or a pattern of a solar
eclipse became popular, as well," Xiao said.
Even staff members at a tattoo shop on Dongsi Street
reported that more customers were asking for tattoos featuring a solar eclipse
or sun pattern.