BEIJING, July 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Relentless rains triggering flooding across the country this summer have drained some 20,000 visitors from an ordinarily must-see UNESCO World Heritage mountain adjacent to the Yangtze River so far this month, based on ticket receipts.
The Lushan Mountain, which occupies an area of 302 square kilometers and possesses rich cultural and geological attractions, has long been a popular destination for tourists to retreat from soaring summer temperatures.
"But not any more, as our sales volume shows", said an administrator at the waterfall that boasts three cascades - one of the 18 famous scenic spots of Lushan.
"The continuous rain since April, and the Shanghai World Expo have made us lose about 35 percent of our tourists this year", Chen Bin, Party secretary of the company that administers the site, told China Daily.
Lengthy, zigzagging rails, normally packed with people like checkpoints at international airports, were all but empty on Friday, leaving a trickle of interested tourists no need to wait for panoramic cable car rides.
"About 20,000 people dropped their plans to spend summer here because of the rain", Chen said. "July and August was the peak season", he said somberly, "but we are not doing well."
Lushan is 19 km south of the city of Jiujiang in East China's Jiangxi province near Lake Poyang. The fast-rising Yangtze River flowing across Jiujiang had also raised water levels of the Poyang Lake above the warning line for months.
Of concern is the fact that the third flood peak of the Yangtze this year is expected to arrive in Jiujiang on Monday, according to officials, as the Three Gorgers Dam upstream increases its discharges to accommodate more water.
Chen said the service industry that relies on tourism at the site has also been dealt a heavy blow.
Average hotel rates, for instance, dropped by half to around 100 yuan from 200 to 300 yuan ($29 - 44) per night, owing to a lack of visitors.
Business owners throughout waterfall region who spoke with China Daily similarly said they suffered a 30 to 50 drop in clients and, consequently, will "hardly break even" this year.
"The golden time has elapsed", said Peng Jinhe, 44, owner of the only teahouse at the third cascade. "Few tourists ascend in the winter, it's too cold."
The downturn has one significant precedent. "This is the worst year we had since 2003," Peng added, referring to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic.
Xiong Yangqing, 38, who runs the entertainment services at the Dragon Pool, said he put in only seven boats, out of all 12 boats, for people rowing. "Last year", he said, "tourists had to wait in a line for their turn in the afternoon."
Lushan National Park is listed as an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Lushan the Quaternary Glaciations National Geopark is a member of UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.