Calls for "paid holiday" rise as holidays end
As another golden week ended, increasingly affluent Chinese tourists are calling more than ever for a "paid holiday" as they still find themselves packed among throngs of people who all head to the same destinations.
"I couldn't get an air ticket discount. The accommodation price of the hotel I stayed at was at two times that of the normal season. Every time I took up my camera, I found at least six people in the frame," said Chen Zailin, who just returned from a trip to Mt. Lushan, a famous mountain resort in east China's Jiangxi Province.
Such complaints are frequent, though the situation has been gradually improved by the Chinese government after four years of the "golden week" holiday system.
Statistics from the Beijing municipal government show that the capital city alone received 3.61 million tourists during the seven-day May Day holiday, with the total tourist income reaching 2.5 billion yuan (305 million US dollars).
On the single day of May 2, the city's hottest destination Forbidden City received over 68,000 visitors.
"People are eager to have time off from work. But when they have time, they're afraid of overcrowding. Still, in the end, they choose to go out for fear of wasting precious traveling time," said a netizen named Joyce, who was echoed by lots of tourists describing their feelings about elbowing to travel around in the country.
"In some places, it's even a problem to find a toilet," said LiYiwei, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). "We have to change the present system."
Likewise, many experts have proposed a "paid holiday" system instead, which allows people to take a certain period off every year when they choose instead of rushing to tourist attractions or shopping malls on the big holidays of Labor Day, National Day and Spring Festival.
"I'm looking forward to the time that I can decide when to take my holiday," said a civil servant surnamed Zhang with the Harbin city government. "I will be financially secure in traveling and there will be no need for me to worry about overcrowding, inflated admission fees to scenic sports or how to buy railway or air tickets."
The Labor Law of China, which took effect in 1995, stipulates that all workers enjoy the right to take paid holiday once a year after working for one year. But in reality, most employees are notable to arrange their own holidays due to various reasons.
Clear stipulations should be added to the current Labor Law, said Duan Guangda, vice-dean of the Helongjiang , culture and tourism college, so as to ensure employees' right to their paid holidays.
A sample survey by the National Tourism Administration and State Statistical Bureau indicates that if the "paid holiday" system should be implemented, around 80 percent of urbanites coulddecide by themselves their time to travel to avoid the peak traveling season, which would greatly release the pressure on transportation, tourism, commercial and catering sectors.
However, Liu Deqian, senior researcher of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said as China's productivity remains relatively low, the implementation of the "paid holiday" system will mean more labor cost for businesses, which will become more reluctant to pay for their workers' travel time.
Besides, such idea is too idealistic, he said, since many enterprises currently refuse to abide by the regulations of eight working hours per day and two-day weekend for their employees.
It's more practical to gradually promote the system in some economically developed regions rather than in the whole country, he said, which may take around 10 years.