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Chinese make most of May Day vacation
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-09 06:23

Gao Jiangyang still feels a warm sensation when talking about the week-long May Day holiday.

Instead of heading off to a tourist destination with millions of others, she drove with her husband to Togtoh County, a poverty-stricken area in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Their journey was to see Fan Aihua, a 19-year-old high-school student. Gao, in her 30s, has paid towards her tuition fees for six years.

"The meeting with Fan was very exciting. It was the first time we saw each other, which made my holiday meaningful," Gao said.

She began to support Fan's tuition when the girl dropped out of school due to poverty at the age of 13.

"She will sit the national entrance examination for college students next month, so I decided to go to see her and give her some encouragement," Gao said.

"Because of my busy work schedule, I couldn't squeeze in any time to see her in the past years but now we've finally met," Gao added.

Gao was among millions of Chinese who tried to make their May Day holiday happier and more interesting, as they have an increasing number of options to enjoy the Golden Week period.

Many affluent urban residents choose travel as a major recreational activity for the holiday week.

More than 120 million journeys were made to tourist destinations nationwide, an increase of 16 per cent on the same period of last year, the office for the nationwide tourism co-ordination said yesterday.

The holiday scored a good economic return across the nation with tourism revenue alone amounting to 46.7 billion yuan (US$ 5.6 billion) - up 20 per cent on the same period last year, according to statistics from the office.

Zhan Wenbo, who works for a South Korean company in Beijing, took a tour to Seoul with his wife and four-year-old daughter.

"We had not planned to travel abroad but the crowds at home prompted us to make the decision for Seoul," Zhan said.

In fact, many people complained the crowds thwarted their plans to travel.

According to a survey conducted by China Central Television, more than 58 per cent of respondents preferred not to travel in the Golden Week.

"I prefer to shop and do body-building exercises on May Day instead of travelling," said Henry Wang from a Beijing-based joint venture. He said he "fears" crowded tourist traps and the busy traffic.

The Golden Week also boosted the domestic retail market. The total volume of retail sales reached about 240 billion yuan (US$29 billion), up 17 per cent on last year, statistics from the Ministry of Commerce indicated.

The holiday economy is now seen not only as a government method of spurring domestic consumption but also as a good chance for common people to have a more leisurely life.

(China Daily 05/09/2005 page3)

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