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Guangdong pilots to renew May Day Golden Week
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The May Day Golden Week is expected to make a comeback in only one province in China this year, as the provincial government of Guangdong was given the greenlight Monday to revive the long holiday on a trial basis to stimulate the slowed economy.

China cut the May Day holiday from seven days to three days in 2007 to ease the burden of overcrowded travels.

Yang Rongsen, head of the provincial tourism bureau, said Monday that Guangdong residents and those with temporary resident permits in Guangdong are encouraged to take long leaves around legal holidays such as May Day and National Day in October. The pilot program agreed on by China's cabinet took effect on Monday.

As the export-oriented manufacturing center of Guangdong has been hard-hit by the financial pinch, the provincial government hoped the holiday spending could help revive the consumer market confidence.

Guangdong's export fell 31 percent year-on-year in January to 36.6 billion U.S. dollars, as demands from its major export markets in the United States and Europe shrank dramatically.

Huang Huahua, governor of Guangdong, said he believes Guangdong's holiday economy has the potential to bolster the sluggish economy.

Figures from the tourism bureau showed credit card spending in the province during the week-long traditional Chinese New Year holiday last month hit 2.2 billion yuan (322 million U.S. dollars).

Zheng Nianjun, a veteran tourist expert, said the holiday program could stimulate Guangdong's tourism by 500 billion yuan this year.

Yan Rongsen said that the government is drafting detailed measures to boost the holiday economy.

"Measures taken into consideration include encouraging government sectors and companies to arrange leaves in rotations," said Yang.

He said that about 60 million yuan of government funding will be earmarked this year to improve tourist facilities in Guangdong's rural areas, where the countryside travels are weak.

The tourism bureau has been coordinating with banks, travel agencies and tourist developers to jointly launch a "travel discount card" that can be used at all scenic spots within the province.

"We hope to start to release the discount card before the upcoming May Day holiday," said Yang.

(Xinhua News Agency February 25, 2009)

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