Short journeys appeal to Chinese tourists in shortened May Day holidays

Updated: 2008-05-01 17:09

BEIJING - Short-distance tour packages become more attractive to Chinese people who are enjoying the first shortened May Day holidays since 1999.

The May Day holidays, from May 1 on, was shortened since this year from a week to three days.

A Beijing-based on-line travel agency said most travelers from Beijing chose to visit cities or coastlines nearby rather than destinations across the country.

Meanwhile, many travel agencies complained that overseas journeys are not as attractive as they were to May Day travelers in the past couple of years.

"Travelers have more money, but they don't have enough time in the May Day case," a travel agent said.

Rates of most overseas tour packages are reduced by at least 15 percent compared with those in last year. But buyers declined by one third before the May Day holidays start. People are still avid to visit Hong Kong and Macao, which are near to the mainland, but reluctant to buy tour packages to Southeast Asia or Europe.

Statistics from the railway also supported the trend of short journeys. Many car owners would rather take rides to suburban excursions, which makes attractions and vacation sites near cities extremely hot.

The government decided in 1999 to design two more holiday weeks on 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 holidays called "golden weeks" immediately saw tides of tourists and rocketing sales earning but also strained transport and other service capabilities, causing complains from holiday makers.

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 spring, and Mid-Autumn Day since 2008.

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