Chinese Holidays

'Golden weeks' may be scrapped by 2009

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 June, 2007, 12:00am

The mainland might scrap its chaotic 'golden week' holiday system in 2009 and introduce traditional public holidays or compulsory paid leave as compensation, according to a leading tourism academic.


Zhang Hui, dean of the Beijing International Studies University's tourism administration department, told a forum in Xiamen that the seven-day 'golden week' holiday for the Lunar New Year would be kept, but the others would be cancelled, the Southeast Express reported.


China has three 'golden weeks' centred on the Lunar New Year, Labour Day and National Day.


The May 1 break would be cut to one day and the National Day holiday to two days, according to Professor Zhang, who said the conclusion was the result of rounds of discussion by the country's tourism experts.


'Now the biggest disagreement among experts is which traditional holidays to make public holidays,' he said.


'We then came up with a solution that the mid-autumn holiday should be a public holiday and the government would choose two more from the Lantern Festival, the Tomb-Sweeping Festival, the Dragon-Boat Festival and Double Nine Day.'


The holidays would not be scrapped without the introduction of compulsory paid leave.


Professor Zhang said amending the law would not happen before Labour Day in 2009.


The week-long holidays were introduced in October 1999 to boost consumer spending.


Nineteen 'Golden Week' holidays between October 1, 2000, and last year encouraged Chinese to travel and helped generate 670 billion yuan in tourism revenue, according to Xinhua.


But the seemingly profitable plan has been criticised for creating travel peak seasons resulting in a transport and accommodation logjam.


Amid the crowds, tourists complained of poor services and low-quality travel experiences, while preservationists voiced concern about possible permanent damage to major heritage sites, such as the Forbidden City.


Soon after this year's May 1 'golden week', the China National Tourism Administration said it was aware of the failure to meet the demands the holidays generated and was considering suggestions to cancel the arrangements and institute new breaks.


Wang Fude, deputy dean of the tourism administration department, said there were good reasons to retain the 'golden week' holidays, given that social conditions were unlikely to ensure the implementation of paid leave.


'I am totally against the golden week holidays for their devastating effects on heritage and poor travel service for tourists,' Professor Wang said.


'But when most Chinese, including millions of migrant workers, can't enjoy the paid leave system, cancelling the golden weeks means they have fewer holidays.' he said.


Money mover


The total amount of money generated by the golden weeks (in yuan) 670b