Sunday, December 09, 2007

Extended Hols Eliminated in China

As mainland visitors tend to visit Hong Kong in large numbers during the so-called Golden Weeks, the move by China's State Coulcil to reduce the long May Day vacation to just one day, will not be a welcomed move. The State Council on Friday decided to cut the three-day long May Day Golden Week holiday to one day, despite most respondents in a nationwide survey objecting to the proposal during last month's nine-day consultation period.

Not only will the May Day holiday be shortened, but the council is also considering reducing the three-day National Day holiday as well to one day. About 80 percent of the respondents rejected the plan according to China News Agency.

In order to encourage more consumer spending, the May Day holiday has been a three-day vacation since 2000. However, on November 9 the government announced a proposal to shorten the May Day holiday. Under the plan, the May Day holiday will be reduced to one day, and the Tomb-Sweeping Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival will be added to the national holiday calendar. The total number of annual public holidays will increase by one day to 11.

The Spring Festival and the National Day Golden Weeks will both remain three days long. Late Friday, the Xinhua News Agency reported the State Council had "principally" approved the proposal during a standing committee meeting, and it is pending revision before an official announcement. Though the intention is noble, but one must remember that the majority of people working in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen are from other parts of China. They really look forward to the extended holidays to go home for holidays. The move will not be popular. This will also affect HK retail and tourism adversely as many will take the opportunity during the May Week and National Day week to travel to HK. Though officially, the top brass in HK will not be saying that that is a bad move - there will be great dissatisfaction among the business crowd in HK. This will also piss off most mainland Chinese - wait for more displeasure. Pretty bad and illogical move by China, those in the State council could face a hard time in the days ahead.

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