Beijing close to replacing Labour Day 'golden week'
The mainland is close to axing the Labour Day 'golden week' holiday and introducing compulsory paid annual leave after the State Council approved the plan in principle yesterday.
A general meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao reviewed and approved in principle a draft rule on annual paid leave and a plan to modify the national public holidays regulation, Xinhua reported.
'The drafts will be announced by the State Council and implemented after further revision,' it reported.
The national public holidays regulation of 1999 combined two weekends with three days of public holidays for Labour Day, National Day and the Lunar New Year, to form 'golden week' holidays to boost tourism and domestic consumption.
But recently experts have advocated a change because the national holidays often create transport chaos, accommodation shortages and overcrowding at tourist spots.
Last month Beijing began a public consultation on the possibility of shortening the three-day Labour Day break to one day and adding three traditional festivals - Ching Ming, Dragon Boat and Mid-Autumn - to the holiday calendar.
The government also published a draft regulation to mandate paid annual leave for workers who have been with the same employer for more than a year. They will get five days of paid annual leave if they have worked for fewer than 10 years, 10 days after 10 years with the same employer and 15 days after 20 years.
While the idea of adding one more day to the public holiday roster was well-supported, more than 30 per cent of respondents to a national online survey opposed cutting the Labour Day holiday to allow for more traditional public holidays.
Many believed the country was weak in implementing regulations and they might encounter greater difficulty taking compulsory paid leave if the 'golden weeks' were adjusted or reduced.
Hong Kong's Tourism Board and Travel Industry Council welcomed the changes. 'We would have more opportunities to attract mainland tourists to the city, especially if the Ching Ming, Dragon Boat and Mid-Autumn festivals fall on Friday or Monday to form a long weekend,' a Tourism Board spokeswoman said.
She said the board had noticed that the number of mainland package tours during 'golden weeks' had fallen over the past two years.
'Tourists are afraid to come during the peak season. In fact, hotels and other tourism-related sectors also face the pressure of dealing with a sudden surge of customers.'
Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung said a change in mainland public holidays might present Hong Kong with more opportunities. 'Hong Kong's atmosphere for the three traditional Chinese festivals is always very good,' he said. 'In the past, mainlanders did not pay much attention to these. Now they may love to spend the festivals here in Hong Kong.'