Professor calls for end to hectic golden weeks

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-09 07:27

Another prominent voice has joined the ranks of those who think golden week holidays cause more trouble than they're worth.

Cai Jiming, a professor at Tsinghua University and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, recently published a report urging reform of the current holiday policy.

Golden weeks are celebrated twice a year, from May 1 to 7, and from October 1 to 7. The goal of the weeklong holidays is to promote domestic business, a strategy that has worked since their implementation in October 1999. But some believe the holidays' hassles outweigh their benefits.

In his report, Cai said golden weeks have produced a series of negative effects. For instance, during the vacations all government operations and enterprises such as manufacturing plants shut down for prolonged periods, rather than just a day or two.

Furthermore, tourist attractions are forced to deal with a flood of visitors all at once, rather than spread out over time, which can strain their resources and facilities.

As an alternative to golden weeks, Cai suggests people have just one day off on International Labour Day (May 1) and the National Holiday (October 1).

In addition, the four traditional Chinese festivals should be named legal holidays. The festivals are the Pure Brightness Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival and New Year's Eve on the Chinese lunar calendar.

Cai's call for reform comes on the heels of a number of other golden week bashers.

In March, 10 CPPCC members made a proposal to replace the current two golden week holidays with a weeklong holiday in July.

A top global tourism expert also suggested China spread out the holidays to avoid the mad rush caused by the golden weeks, when hundreds of millions of people take to the roads, rails and air, according to Reuters.

Services are strained during golden week holidays, Jean-Claude Baumgarten, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, told Reuters on Monday.

The State Tourism Administration has begun to study the issue, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The administration is considering ways to replace the golden week holidays, such as paid vacation.

"The administration is collecting advice from experts and gathering other countries' experiences as reference," said the official.

The tourism authority has not yet reached any decisions and set any deadlines, according to the official.

(China Daily 12/09/2006 page2)

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