China: Government reviews national holidays to recover tradition and balance tourism demand

18 December 2007

Beijing, China, 18 Dec – The Chinese population is to have a further three national holidays and lose one of its “golden weeks” (weeks of holidays), according to the calendar reform that the Government has approved, China’s official news agency said Monday.

With this revision of the labor calendar, the Chinese government aims to recover the customs associated to traditional festivals and balance tourist demand during the weeks of holidays, according to the New China agency.

In practice, the new calendar, which will come into force on January 1, 2008, will increase national holidays from 10 to 11 days.

A spokesperson for the National Commission for Development and Reform said that the new plan would ratify Chinese traditions, better distribute holidays and prevent the “overcrowding” of the “golden weeks” when more people travel during the new holidays and during the periods of paid holidays.

The three “golden weeks” corresponding to the Spring Festival, the First of May and China’s National Day, were implemented in 1999 to increase domestic tourism and thus promote China’s economic growth.

The measure actually had the opposite effect. Every year, during “golden weeks” millions of Chinese travel at the same time, which overcrowds the transport systems and tourist destinations, transforming holiday periods into an unpleasant experience.

In 2006, over 330 million people traveled to the interior of China, at least 41 million traveled by train and around 1.16 million traveled through Beijing airport, during October’s golden week, according to government estimates.

Along with this change, the government also introduced changes to paid holidays.

Employees that have worked for less than ten years have the right to five days paid holiday per year, those that have worked for between 10 and 19 years get 10 days holiday and those that have been working for at least 20 years have the right to 15 days paid holiday. (macauhub)