Eight ticket scalpers were detained at the front gate of Wuhan University for selling tickets to see the cherry blossoms on campus, Chutian Metropolis Daily reported on Tuesday.
The university, located in Wuhan, Hubei province, has long been renowned for its 600-meter-long avenue of cherry blossoms, which receives up to 200,000 visits a day during the flowering season in late March in recent years.
Since March 17, the university has taken measures, including online reservations, to control the flow of visitors. People are allowed to see the blossoms free of charge, but need to make a reservation three days ahead of time.
On weekdays, 15,000 tickets are available for visitors, while 30,000 people are allowed in on weekend days. But even that falls short of demand, creating an environment ripe for scalpers to swoop in.
No details about punishments for scalpers, or further moves to control the illegal sales, were released by the university or the police.
A male visitor surnamed Shao, from Xi'an, Shaanxi province, complained: "It's irrational to book three days ahead. I'm staying here for only two days, how can I manage it? If I want to see the flowers, I have no choice but to buy tickets from the scalpers."
"The university should take a share of blame for poor management of visitors, rather than criticising the scalpers," he said.
Prices for the illicit tickets have been bid up as high as 100 yuan (S$21). Most of the sellers are said to be staff members or students at the university who say they're trying to earn money for tuition by guiding visitors.
According to local media reports, some of the scalpers allowed buyers to use their staff cards to enter the university gate. They vanished quickly once they got their cards back. Tourists who did manage to get inside were stopped at a second checkpoint and not necessarily allowed to enter the cherry blossom avenue.
Uncivilized behaviour, such as littering and snapping off branches, have annoyed the university's students and members of the public alike.
One young man was seen shaking a cherry tree fiercely to make the flowers fall, amid laughter and cheers from his companions on Saturday.
The university denounced his behaviour in a Weibo post saying, "Is the rain of cherry blossoms beautiful? The flower suffered a lot."