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Travel crush as Golden Week sets records

Updated: 2012-10-09 02:52
By Zheng Xin, Wang Hongyi and Zheng Caixiong ( China Daily)

Beijing remains the most popular tourist destination in the country during Golden Week, data from tourism authorities has revealed.

The capital received 13 million tourists over the weeklong holiday, a year-on-year increase of 22.7 percent. Tourism revenue totaling 8.8 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) was poured into the city, a year-on-year increase of 29.4 percent.

Travel crush as Golden Week sets records

Visitors wave national flags in front of a bed of flowers at the Tian'anmen Square in Beijing on Sept 30. Zhu Xingxin / China Daily

According to the National Holiday Office, headquartered in the National Tourism Administration, the number of domestic tourists set a new record this year.

The 119 monitored tourist sites across the nation, received more than 34.2 million tourists, a year-on-year increase of 21 percent, with total revenue adding up to 1.76 billion yuan — an increase of 25 percent.

Travel crush as Golden Week sets records

The boom in domestic tourism is thanks to the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday falling at the same time, resulting in the longest Golden Week in history.

However, for many travelers the holiday has become associated with severe traffic congestion and crowds of tourists.

Experts compiled a list of the Top 10 destinations in China based on hotel reservations, flights taken and other holiday related bookings.

The list has been mocked as the "Top 10 destinations not to go" and "top 10 destinations with the biggest crowds".

"I went to Shanghai during the National Day holiday only to find myself surrounded and even suffocated by massive crowds," said Han Shuai, a 26-year-old bank clerk from Shandong province.

"It totally makes sense that Shanghai ranks second on the list," he said. "Were the list released earlier I might have changed my mind and spent the holiday somewhere else."

Travel crush as Golden Week sets records 

More than 7.9 million tourists traveled to Shanghai over the holiday, a 21-percent increase from last year. Tourists spent more than 7 billion yuan in the city, according to Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration.

Figures from Shanghai's tourism department showed the city's 133 tourist spots received about 6.7 million tourists, a 25-percent increase from last year.

In Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, the local tourism authority said more than 11.86 million tourists visited the city. About 1.6 million of those visitors drove their own cars to the southern metropolis. The number of tourists using their own cars to tour Guangzhou represented 13.4 percent of the total and was up more than 340,000 compared with the same period last year.

Predicting the crush at home, some chose to spend their holiday overseas.

More than 23,000 Guangzhou residents traveled abroad during the holiday, an increase of 32.5 percent compared with the same period last year.

Chen Jinying, a Guangzhou office worker, said she chose to travel to Thailand due to price hikes for domestic tour packages during the National Day holiday, and the strong renminbi.

"I spent about 2,000 yuan ($317) to visit Thailand for four days, the price is cheaper than touring Beijing, or other tourist destinations in the northern part of China," she said.

Guangzhou Travel Corporation said they helped more than 1,400 local residents tour Taiwan over the holiday, up 44 percent compared with the same period last year.

Complaints have also hit a three-year high.

The National Holiday Office received 91 complaints about tourism spots over the eight days, accounting for more than half of all complaints to the office.

Experts have suggested the government improve its paid vacation system by diverting the flow of tourists.

According to Dai Bin, president of China Tourism Academy, the lack of holidays in China should take some of the blame for the holiday chaos.

"Employees in China are entitled to too few long holidays and paid vacation is not well implemented," said Dai. "It's no surprise everyone decided to travel at the same time, it's one of only two long holidays people have here in China."

The seven-day May Day holiday was replaced with four shorter ones in 2008, leaving Chinese employees with only two seven-day holidays every year — the National Day holiday and the Chinese New Year.

"People seldom get to travel in winter, especially because it's a time for family reunions," he said.

The government should reconsider bringing back the May Day holiday so as to better divert the tourist traffic, he said.

China has some of the least generous holiday entitlements in the world, according to a 2011 survey of 62 countries and regions by Mercer, a global human resources consultancy.

"Many citizens are not aware of their right to paid vacation and some even have never heard of this kind of benefit," said Dai. "The situation is even worse in some privately-run enterprises and businesses."

A lack of laws and regulations means paid vacations are not properly implemented, he said.

"Some employees simply let go of their rights," said He Li, a lawyer specializing in labor law at Yingke Law Firm in Beijing. "There are still some leaks and loopholes in the law and it takes time to improve them."

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