Fate of week-long breaks still up in the air
He Huifeng and Kristine Kwok
No immediate plan scrap 'golden week' holidays
The government is still weighing up proposals to modify the 'golden week' system, a tourism official said yesterday, denying reports that a decision to scrap the week-long May Day holiday was pending.
Zhang Dong, director of the China National Tourism Administration's propaganda department, told the Beijing Evening News studies of the issue had been done for years but the authority had yet to finalise a draft to revise the eight-year-old system.
'A report has been submitted to the State Council on the several proposals collected, but [we] have yet to decide on a particular proposal,' he said.
Mr Zhang said there was also uncertainty about whether a proposal to revise the scheme - of week-long holidays around the Lunar New Year, May Day and National Day in October - would be sent to the National People's Congress for deliberation.
He was responding to recent mainland reports that the national tourism watchdog had suggested at least one of the three 'golden weeks' be eliminated in favour of breaks at other times of the year.
Advocates claim the changes could ease pressure on tourism infrastructure and improve services for travellers.
But Li Geng, a member of the Nation Tourism Standardisation Committee, said cancelling 'golden week' holidays would have some negative effects on the community.
'Central and local authorities have launched expensive projects and enlarged the transport system's capacity to match the demand of these three national holidays,' Mr Li said. 'We should consider that many transport resources would go unused if the long holidays were cancelled.
'Besides, many medium-sized and small places have invested heavily in their tourism industry because of the contribution of the golden week holidays. Their tourism revenue would be cut dramatically if the holidays were scrapped.'
Critics say the holidays have resulted in unmanageable peak seasons that mean poor services for tourists, but Mr Li said that should not be an excuse to cancel them.
'From the latest statistics we can see that the number of tourists visiting traditionally popular domestic sight-seeing spots has decreased during the recent National Day holidays,' he said. 'It means the pressure on accommodation, transport and other services has been redistributed to various new tour spots, especially new tourist attractions and overseas destinations.'
Some people said cutting the longer holidays would only benefit a few rich people.
'I really appreciate the holidays because it's mandatory and guaranteed by the labour law,' a Shenzhen migrant worker said. 'My family and friends ... may have no money to travel but at least we can get together on these three holidays.'
A Sina.com survey found an increasing number of people in favour of longer breaks for Chinese festivals, such as the Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.
Mainlanders made 179 million trips this Labour Day break, a 22.7 per cent jump year on year
Tourism revenue was up 25.8 per cent to (in yuan)
SOURCE: THE CHINA NATIONAL TOURISM ADMINISTRATION