Saturday, September 20, 2008

China satellite base suspends tourism during spacecraft launch

Jiuquan, host city of the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft launch in northwest China's Gansu Province, suspended all tourist activities in the area to observe the upcoming spacecraft launch.

The desert launch base, 210 km away from the city's downtown, became a popular destination among space fans after the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center announced on Sept. 8 that the manned Shenzhou-7 spacecraft would be launched at an appropriate time between Sept. 25 and 30.

A Jiuquan Tourism Board official surnamed Wu confirmed on Saturday travel agencies had been ordered to stop organizing tours to the launch base. The exact date ending the travel ban would be announced after the launch.

"The tourist board will see to travel agencies to refund customers' advance payments on such tours," he said.

A Jiuquan Longteng Travel Agency Service employee said the company had stopped its adverts promoting satellite launch travel.

"All the organized tour groups to the launch center have been called off in line with the government's requirement," she said.

A woman surnamed Ma with the Jiuquan International Travel Service said the agency had received many calls about spacecraft launching tours.

"Many people were disappointed when they found out travel to the spacecraft launch base wasn't allowed."

The tourist agencies said "space tours" in Jiuquan had become popular in recent years. The market response to the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft launch was even hotter than before.


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