While China's legislature in Beijing mulls over rearranging the May Day holiday so it again lasts seven days, Guangdong province has adopted pilot programs to this end.
The provincial government announced last month that residents would be encouraged to take paid vacations near the three-day May Day holiday.
Helmed by the Guangdong National Travel and Recreation Program, the move is expected to effectively stretch the holiday to a full week. Last year, the central government rearranged the week of the holiday so workers got three days rather than seven days off. The trimmed days were reallocated to the dates of traditional festivals.
The program also encourages tours awarded by employers, study tours by students and tours by senior citizens.
As some people question how feasible the new May Day holiday scheme would be, provincial tourism authorities will announce the implementation details next month.
The program is conducive to spurring domestic demand in the tourism industry, in contrast to the drastic decline in external demand, the Guangdong branch of China Travel Services spokesman Wang Jian told Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily earlier.
A longer May Day holiday should increase overseas and inter-provincial tourism, experts have said.
In Foshan, Guangdong, the Nanhai branch of China Travel Services last week launched its three-phase 30-million-yuan tourism coupon project targeting residents aged at least 50 who are interested in traveling inter-provincial and international routes.
Foshan Tours International Tourist Co plans to start delivering coupons today for a two-stage 10-million-yuan program aimed at senior citizens and VIP clients for routes in Guangdong.
Nanhu International Travel Service in Guangdong's provincial capital Guangzhou started issuing a total of 20 million yuan worth of coupons to people aged at least 55 last month.
Unlike coupons issued in many other cities, the coupons in Foshan and Guangzhou are not government financed.
Foshan's tourism authorities pledged to supervise the issuance and use of the coupons to prevent tour agencies from cheating.
Tourism authorities of various cities in Guangdong are working on additional measures to stimulate local tourism.
With the largest provincial-level economy in China, Guangdong raked in US$9.2 billion in foreign currencies from tourism last year. The sector underwent 5.4 percent annual growth and accounted for more than 20 percent of the national total.
It recorded revenues touching 200.36 billion yuan from domestic tours, up 11.9 percent, from 309 million domestic tourists last year, the provincial tourism administration said.
(China Daily March 6, 2009)