Short-haul tours hit by shorter holiday
(China Daily/Xinhua)
Updated: 2008-05-02 09:06

Short-distance tour packages have proven a hit during the first shortened May Day holiday since 1999.

The May Day holiday, which started yesterday, has been shortened from a week to three days.

A Beijing-based online travel agency said many travelers from Beijing were sticking close to home, visiting nearby cities or the coast rather than venturing further afield.

Meanwhile, many travel agencies have complained that the shorter holiday had hurt the appeal of overseas travel.

"Travelers have more money, but they don't have enough time during the May Day holiday," one travel agent said.

The rates of most overseas tour packages have been reduced by at least 15 percent compared with last year. But the number of buyers had declined by a third by the time the holiday officially started. Hong Kong and Macao, which are near the mainland, are still popular, but fewer people have been willing to travel to Southeast Asia or Europe.

Railway figures also reflect the popularity of short trips, and it looks as though some people are simply driving to sites near their homes.

The government decided in 1999 to create holiday weeks to mark May Day and National Day, in addition to the Spring Festival holiday week, to spur domestic spending to offset the economic downturn triggered by the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

The so-called "golden weeks" unleashed tides of tourists and consumer spending, but also strained transport and other service capabilities, generating complaints from holidaymakers.

The government decided to shorten the May Day holidays last year, but added two other days to the national holiday package - Qingming, or Tomb Sweeping Day in the spring, and Mid-Autumn Day.

(For more biz stories, please visit Industries)