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Public debates resuming Golden Week
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A deputy's proposal to resume the seven-day Labor Day Golden Week holiday has sparked heated debate online as well as in the ongoing sessions of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and National People's Congress (NPC).

Three tourists look at the world's largest bronze Buddha in Longkou, Shandong province.
Three tourists look at the world's largest bronze Buddha in Longkou, Shandong province. [China Daily]

"We need a weeklong holiday at some point during nearly half a year's hard work, because having three days off doesn't afford enough time for long-distance travel," 27-year-old Beijinger Su Jun said yesterday.

"It is so hard to ask the boss for paid leave in the face of the global economic crisis."

She was also worried her travel-mates could not get paid leave at the same time as her.

Su was one of 5 million who voted in an online poll that www.people.com.cn revealed on Wednesday in which 92.2 percent of respondents supported the resumption.

Former vice-director of the National Tourism Administration (NTA) Zhang Xiqin made the proposal during a group discussion of the ongoing CPPCC session.

He pointed out the seven-day Labor Day holiday could cushion the economic downturn by boosting tourism and domestic consumption.

China kicked off the May Day and National Day golden week holidays in 1999 partly to spur domestic consumption.

Then three golden weeks were cut down to two.

Three new holidays celebrating traditional Chinese festivals (the Tomb Sweeping Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival) were added last year.

The move was in response to public complaints of overcrowding on buses and railways, and at tourists sites.

However, NTA spokesman Liu Xiaojun said yesterday that the administration had not researched the feasibility of resuming the weeklong Labor Day holiday.

"Local governments could develop pilot projects to promote consumption according to their unique situations," the National Business Daily quoted him as saying yesterday.

Tsinghua University professor Cai Jiming, a holiday reform advocate, told the ongoing CPPCC session the weeklong vacation was never intended to stay in place over the long term.

The Labor Day holiday should remain three days long, Cai said.

"Canceling the 'seven-day weekend' cannot influence tourism revenues," he told the National Business Daily yesterday.

But NPC deputy Ma Yuanzhu, who is also president of a Sichuan-based tourism company, said resuming the Labor Day Golden Week could rejuvenate Sichuan's tourism industry.

The sector had slumped since last year's earthquake.

(China Daily March 6, 2009)

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