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Bird's Nest takes gold in tourism stakes(China Daily)
   
  For the first time, the Forbidden City has lost its decades-old status as the most popular tourist destination in the capital.

The Olympic Common Domain (OCD), where the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube and the National Indoor Stadium are located, has eclipsed Beijing's traditional attractions as tourists' first choice in the first two days of the Golden Week, according to figures released Tuesday by the capital's municipal tourism bureau.

Around 283,000 people visited the OCD on Monday and Tuesday, compared to 212,800 for the Forbidden City, or Palace Museum, the bureau said.





Two tourists show their Olympic post cards in front of the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, on Sept. 29, 2008. Beijing Olympic venues become hot scenic spots for China's week-long National Day holiday from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, 2008. [Xinhua]

"I came to Beijing to see the Olympic stadium," said Xue Xingyuan from Xi'an, who arrived on Monday.

"The Bird's Nest is even more gigantic and grand than it looked on TV."

Another tourist, Wang Haiyun from Tianjin, said: "To see the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube was the only thing in my mind for the holiday.

"I felt I could almost hear the cheering and applause. I could imagine the magical moments that happened here during the Games."

The Olympic Green, housing a forest park and the OCD, are open to the public for the week-long National Day holiday that began on Monday.

Each day there are 80,000 tickets available priced at 50 yuan ($7.30) for the Bird's Nest, and 12,000 tickets at 30 yuan for the Water Cube.

Up to 20,000 people can visit the National Indoor Stadium and 8,000 can tour the international zone at the Olympic Village each day. Tickets for both are 20 yuan.

The large number of visitors does not mean there is any slackening of security.

Half of the visitors to the Olympic Green and all visitors to the venues are subject to security checks.

But this time, visitors have been allowed to bring their own drinks and food.

If the number of visitors exceeds 250,000 - the full capacity of the Olympic Green - police will temporarily close it.

Zhang Huiguang, head of the Beijing tourism administration, said earlier that the opening of Olympic venues to the public will be a boost for the capital's tourism business over the holiday period.

On Monday 380,000 visitors flocked to 21 key tourism sites in Beijing, 25.6 percent up on last year.

Yang Li, a teacher from Yunnan province, said the first stop of her Beijing trip was the Water Cube. "It would be even better if I can swim there for once."
   
 
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