Xinhua News Agency

Newspapers want to keep 'golden week'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2007, 12:00am

A proposed plan to scrap the week-long break during the May Day holiday in exchange for more traditional festivals has run into stiff opposition as the public consultation on holiday reforms ends today.

Twenty-two media outlets yesterday jointly sent a petition to the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, urging it to add three traditional festivals to the calendar without cutting the 'golden week' holiday to one day.

Signed by influential newspapers such as the Huaxi Metropolis News and the Yangzi Evening News, the letter said the 'golden week' arrangements for May Day, Lunar New Year and National Day were still important to people who needed the week-long break for family reunions or rest.

The National Development and Reform Commission released a draft last Friday proposing to shorten the May Day 'golden week' and introduce public holidays for three traditional festivals - Ching Ming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.

The draft was published on all official and popular portal websites along with a questionnaire for people to submit their opinions.

On Monday, Xinhua reported that almost 70 per cent of participants in its online survey supported the draft.

But the polling results reported by other newspapers and portals were much less positive.

Sixty per cent of participants who answered a People's Daily online questionnaire opposed the idea, the report said.

The questionnaire itself has been criticised for not including a question on how people feel about scraping the May Day 'golden week'.

'It is obviously flawed as it does not give people an option to show whether they agree to cancel the golden week in May,' Liu Simin, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Science's Tourism Research Centre, told the newspaper.

Mr Liu said by collecting opinion online, the authorities had excluded people who did not have access to the internet.

But Huang Tao, a Renmin University professor who participated in the research of holiday reforms, said it would not be feasible to have too many public holidays.

'If you want to have traditional festivals, then you have to give up a long holiday,' Professor Huang told Xinhua. 'Our country is limited in our development and can't afford too much time for recreation.'

He shrugged off worry that scraping one of the three 'golden weeks' would create chaos and congestion because holidaymakers would jam public transport and tourism facilities in the remaining two. He said the substituted holidays would allow people to make more flexible plans.

Most used the long break to rest at home rather than travel, he said.