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"Golden Week" Holiday may be canceled
Updated: 2004-11-26 15:35

State Council departments are considering canceling the weeklong holidays around International Labor Day, National Day and the Chinese Spring Festival and returning to a system where people have more choice over when to take their own holidays.

China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) sources disclosed that they have discussed the issue with various bodies, including the Ministry of Railways, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the National Development and Reform Commission.

In September 1999 the State Council decided to introduce the three so-called "golden weeks" to help stimulate domestic consumption and lessen the impact of the Asian financial crisis by spurring development of the tourism industry.

Zhao Peng, president of the Beijing Union University's Tourism College, said that Hong Kong and Macao would be affected if the holidays were changed, but this would not last long since the same overall amount of income from tourism would simply be spread throughout the year.

"The 'golden week' holidays go against general patterns of tourist management," said Zhao, "They put much pressure on the environment, tourist services and public security. Moreover, retails sales during them are falling because people are shopping at more convenient times."

The 10th Five-Year Plan -- China's 2001-2005 economic and social development blueprint -- already suggested introducing 26-36 flexible paid holidays a year instead of the fixed week-long vacations.

A survey by Horizon Research of 3,502 people aged 18-65 in 10 cities found that 44 percent wanted more flexible vacations. Most over 20 years of age favored "free and flexible holiday vacations," while those over 40 particularly stressed the importance of it being paid leave.

Zhou Tongqian, vice president of the Tourism Administration College at the Beijing International Studies University, took a skeptical attitude toward complete change, saying that a wholly flexible model would have its own drawbacks and that a compromise should be reached.

Li Mingde, senior researcher at the Tourism Research Center, affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Science, said that the "golden weeks" bring too much disorder and stress to people's lives, despite the fact that they appear to have helped the economy when first introduced. "They will sooner or later be replaced by flexible holiday vacations."

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