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'Golden Week' Likely to Be Canceled in 2009
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China's government is likely to scrap up its "golden week" holiday system and make public holidays of more traditional festivals by 2009, a Chinese tourism expert has revealed.

The week-long May Day holiday would be shortened to one day and the National Day holiday to two days, Zhang Hui, dean of the tourism administration department at Beijing International Studies University, told a forum in Xiamen, east China's Fujian Province.

Zhang said the conclusion was drawn from discussions among domestic tourism experts.

To make up for the lost holidays, experts suggested choosing three traditional festivals as public holidays, according to a story published in the China Youth Daily.

"Experts all agree that Mid-Autumn Day should be set as a public holiday and the government can choose two more from the Lantern Festival, the Tomb-Sweeping Day, the Dragon-Boat Festival and Double Nine Day." Zhang was quoted as saying.

In addition, compulsory paid vacations, which might be written into the labor law, would be granted to employees, he said.

Each person will have a basic seven-day paid leave a year, increasing by one day for every year of employment. The longest paid leave would not exceed 14 days, he explained.

China has three "golden weeks" for the Spring Festival, Labour Day and National Day holidays. The "golden weeks" are actually only three days holiday as a weekend on one side of the holiday is designated as two working days.

The Lunar New Year golden week would be preserved, Zhang said.

The week-long holidays were introduced in October 1999 to boost tourism and holiday consumption. But the lucrative scheme has also created travel peaks and a great threat to many heritage sites and scenic spots.

Earlier after this year's May Day holiday, the China National Tourism Administration said it was considering increasing appeals for canceling the "golden weeks".

The administration, however, pointed out that it would still keep the week-long holidays in place currently, as China's social conditions are not mature enough to implement paid vacations.

(Xinhua News Agency July 2, 2007)

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