Record travel for upcoming holiday season expected

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-09-11 07:34
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Beijing - A record number of tourists from the Chinese mainland are expected to travel during the holiday peak season that starts on Sept 22, with outbound trips being the top choice for many.

The China Tourism Academy forecast that 210 million tourists will travel domestically in the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays.

The academy did not forecast how many mainland tourists will visit Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao as well as foreign destinations, but industry insiders said that long-distance foreign destinations in the United States and Europe will also benefit from the long holiday.

This year, 1.3 billion Chinese will be able to enjoy two public holiday periods as long as 10 days.

The Mid-Autumn Festival holiday falls on Sept 22 to 24, while the seven-day National Day holiday starts on Oct 1. Between them, there are six working days.

"If people can get approval to take the week off between the two holidays, they can have a 16-day holiday, which is ideal for long-distance outbound tours," said Dai Bin, head of the academy.

Travel agencies said sales of packages for long-distance outbound destinations have particularly benefited from the two holidays.

"The long holiday allows more tourists to participate in our outbound tours to faraway destinations, such as Canada, South Africa and even Chile and Tahiti," said Shi Xiaojuan, assistant general manager of the China Travel Service Beijing office.

Packages of trips to the US, Canada and Japan are all very popular. These were fully booked by as early as the end of August, she said.

The long holiday also benefited domestic destinations.

"Trips to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Yunnan province and the Tibet autonomous region all sold quite well because of the longer holiday plans of our customers," said Xu Xiaolei, a senior manager of China CYTS Tours.

Jason Song, a 26-year-old employee of consumer goods company P&G's customer business development department in Hangzhou, told China Daily he successfully asked for an annual leave of one week, which combined the two holidays together.

"I'm planning to go on a road trip in Xinjiang," he said. "Many of my friends will go with me as we all have a 16-day vacation."

Song said he started the long vacation plan early this year. His boss quickly approved his annual leave request, he said.

But holiday arrangements have also proven to be difficult for those who have not been able to "combine" the two vacation periods like what Song did.

Xinhua News Agency reported that the long holidays are divided in this way: Employees must work on Sept 19 and Sept 25 to make up for the two days of vacation they will get during the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, because the festival actually only allows for a day off work.

Likewise, people must also go to work on Sept 26 and Oct 9 to "repay" the days "borrowed" from the weeklong National Day holiday, because it only allows for three days off.

After the National Day holiday, people should go to work for two days before getting a day off.

"I'm bewildered when I see the holiday arrangement. It's hard to follow," Sun Jing, an editor at the Beijing-based Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, was quoted as saying.

The arrangement, billed as "the most complicated of holiday plans" by the Beijing Times, has not occurred in the past several years as the two holidays usually overlapped.

A spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission said that the arrangement was based on different factors - safeguarding the legal rights of citizens to enjoy public holidays and preventing them from working too long - that made it difficult for the two holidays to be merged and used consecutively this year.

Tan Zongyang contributed to this story.