- POSTED: 18 Dec 2013 19:26
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More holidays for workers appear to be helping domestic consumption in China, which is often cited as being central to sustain long-term economic growth.
SHANGHAI: More holidays for workers appear to be helping domestic consumption in China, which is often cited as being central to sustain long-term economic growth.
Packed train stations and overcrowded tourist destinations are common during public holidays in China.
It is the result of long seven-day public holidays designed by the government in 1999 to boost domestic consumption and tourism, and stimulate the economy.
This year, US$36 billion of tourism revenue was generated during China's week-long National Day holiday in October - a 21 per cent rise from 2012.
Retail and F&B receipts for the same period hit a record US$143 billion, up 13 per cent.
Dai Yu, director of tourism marketing at Ctrip, said: "Every year during the seven-day long holiday, many tourist sites will be jam-packed. It doesn't sit well for travellers. More people will make use of these long holidays to head overseas instead."
But to enjoy the week-long holidays, most working Chinese are required to work weekends to make up for the extra days off. The result is a longer-than-usual work week.
Mary Field, marketing manager at East China, said: "It probably does affect productivity. At the end of working seven, eight days in a row, people are tired. And it does make things difficult if for example, the job involves communicating with companies and clients that are outside of China. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain that 'by the way, we have a week off and nobody will be answering the phone or emails but we're here on a Saturday’."
The government conducted an online poll in November asking the public to choose between three proposals for national holidays next year.
More than half picked the option with the fewest working weekends.
In response, officials reduced the number of week-long holidays in 2014, but it also removed the eve of Lunar New Year as a day off.
This is expected to affect millions of migrant workers commuting home to celebrate Lunar New Year.
Most Chinese workers get an average of 10 days of paid vacation per year, as gazetted by the government in 2007.
Analysts say it is time authorities revise that plan to give workers more paid days off to help spur domestic spending and sustain the local hospitality sector year-round.
Dai Yu said: "Many companies use paid vacations to reward workers. Implementing this system results in more people travelling during non-public holidays."
Academics and researchers are also calling for more leave days since they boost tourism which in turn could expand China's service industry, a sector the government has been keen to develop as part of China's next wave of growth.