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8 Oct, 2012

Chinese Golden Week Holiday Wrap-up: Domestic, Overseas Travel Hits Record


By Zhao Qian (Global Times)

October 08, 2012 – A record number of Chinese tourists travelled overseas during the eight-day Golden Week holiday from September 30 to October 7 and greatly contributed to local consumption, but shopping and visiting places of interest are not their only reasons for travel any more.

Around 100,000 Chinese visitors were expected to travel to South Korea, up 30 percent compared with the same period of last year, and spend as much as 200 billion won ($200 million), the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) predicted in a report on September 29. (Click here to see some great pictures of Chinese travellers on the move.)

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Medical tourism was one of the highlights of Chinese tourists in South Korea. “Surgery appointments have been fully booked by Chinese tourists before the holiday,” a source from a plastic surgery hospital in South Korea was quoted by Chosun Ilbo, a daily newspaper in South Korea, as saying on October 4.

“Chinese shoppers make up the highest portion of sales at our main store, accounting for about 40 percent,” Kim Jung-eun, deputy sales manager at the main branch of Lotte Duty Free in Myeongdong, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.

Contrary to South Korea, visitors to Hong Kong spend less money on retail buying than before as they have more choices elsewhere.

The number of Chinese mainland visitors to Hong Kong was expected to increase by 10 to 15 percent compared with the same period of last year, but their total retail consumption was predicted to drop by 25 percent year-on-year, Joseph Tung, executive director of Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, was quoted by Wen Wei Po as saying on October 6.

“I didn’t buy any luxury products in Hong Kong this time because I have asked my friend, who went to France this holiday, to buy something for me, and most of the luxury products in Paris are much cheaper,” Yang Hua, a 32-year-old white collar worker from Beijing, who went to Hong Kong during the holiday, told the Global Times.

“Shopping and visiting places of interest are no longer the only reasons for Chinese tourists to travel overseas, and they also want to enjoy leisure,” Zhou Kaiwen, general manager of Beijing-based L’Avion International Travel Service, told the Global Times.

Other popular destinations like some Southeast Asian countries and some famous islands also attracted a huge number of tourists.

A woman surnamed Ma in Wuhan, capital of Central China’s Hubei Province, planned to go to Malaysia for her honeymoon and buy foreign exchange worth $2,000, but finally she could only convert $900 on October 3, because too many people went overseas during the holiday, leading to a shortage of foreign currencies at banks during the period, Wuhan Evening News reported.

China’s tourism industry reaps golden harvest

BEIJING, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — China’s “Golden Week” holiday justified its title with a rise in tourism revenue, National Tourism Administration (NTA) statistics showed Sunday.

The country’s 119 major scenic spots received a total of 34.25 million visitors during the eight-day holiday, up 20.96 percent from the corresponding period last year.

Tourism income surged by nearly a quarter from 2011 to 1.77 billion yuan (278.39 million U.S.dollars), the NTA said.

The administration said many scenic spots, including the Forbidden City, attracted record volumes of visitors during the longest-ever “Golden Week” bridging the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday.

On Tuesday, 186,000 people visited the Forbidden City, or the Palace Museum at the heart of Beijing — the largest single-day number of visitors ever.

But the holiday tour spree also gave rise to complaints among the public about unpleasantly crowded scenic spots and restaurants as well as traffic congestion.

On Wednesday, thousands of vehicles jammed two mountain roads winding to and out of the Lushan Mountain scenic area in eastern China.

The week witnessed a significant increase in the number of individual road travelers because of the government’s policy that exempts passenger cars from road tolls during the holiday.

The policy resulted in unprecedented traffic and caused heavy congestion on major expressways.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Transport, a record of 80.87 million people traveled by road each day during the holiday, adding the total volume to 647 million.

Meanwhile, the country’s trains carried 60.95 million passengers, up 9.4 percent year on year, while the number of airway travelers hit 7.61 million from Sept. 29 to Oct. 6.

Chinese holidaymakers swarm to see centenarians

NANNING, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — Tourists have been flocking to Bama, a remote and mountainous county famous for having the most centenarians in China.

More than 180,000 people visited the county during the National Day holiday period, to experience its local longevity culture. This is up 62 percent from the same period last year, said Huang Yanfei, director of the Bama County Tourism Bureau.

Bama is predominately inhabited by the ethnic Yao group in Hechi City of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Recognized by the International Natural Medicine Society as the “hometown of longevity” or a centenarian-clustered area, Bama now boasts 73 centenarians and 252 90-year-olds. The ratio of centenarians is 30.8 per 100,000, which exceeds the international standard of 25 per 100,000.

Board director Li Meixiao of the Guangxi Shouxiang (hometown of longevity) International Tourism Group attributed the county’s growing popularity to tourists’ changing tastes.

“A lot more Chinese people hope to use their holiday vacation to explore a healthy way of life. Most of them have come with a wish to see centenarians in person, taste what these centenarians have every day and breath in the fresh air we have,” said Li.

Miao Zhi, a 65-year-old from the city of luoyang in central China’s Henan, said her family did not want to go to a scenic spot during the National Day holiday. “We wanted to have a longevity tour instead to explore long-living secrets by talking to these centenarians and staying for a few days,” said Miao.

Wang Jun, a 60-year-old from Tianjin, rented a house in Bama. “The germ-killing negative oxygen ions in the air here are much more than that in scenic spots where it is jam-packed with people. Staying here is much healthier,” she said.

With the influx of tourists, rural home inns are providing a new source of income to the Bama people, who previously depended on farmland for food.

Huang Dashun, a local with the Pona Village who renovated his home into a family hotel, said that most of his guests were arriving by car. “I have been busy answering the phone as a lot more people have called to book a room,” said Huang.

Official statistics showed that in 2011, the Pona Village alone received 273,000 tourists and took an aggregate tourism revenue of 64.3 million yuan. The village’s per capita annual income has gone up from a few thousands of yuan in the 1990s to more than 15,000 yuan.

Li Li, deputy mayor of He Chi City, hopes to cash in on Bama’s longevity to drive up the city’s tourism and help reduce poverty in the area.

According to the city’s blueprint, by 2015, rural tourism will create 200,000 jobs. More than 5 million tourists will visit annually.

Holiday not so golden when extra pay missing

(Xinhua) October 06, 2012 – FOR most Chinese workers, the ongoing eight-day holiday break has been a welcome opportunity to relax, but 43-year-old Chen Yonglun prefers to work over the holidays.

Chen works at a feedstuff factory in Guiyang, capital of southwest China’s Guizhou Province.

Unlike previous holidays when workers could get a chance at overtime, the factory decided to suspend production during this year’s holidays, which run through Sunday.

The break, however, did not please Chen. “We want to earn money. That’s what we’re working for,” he said, not knowing where to go during the holidays.

Chen left his hometown in Sichuan Province 10 years ago, and since then, he has always worked through holidays. “I was happy that I could earn over 500 yuan (US$79) as overtime salary,” he said.

According to Chinese law, employers have to pay three times workers’ daily wages if they demand that employees work on national holidays, which, given the unfavorable economy, is too heavy a burden for many enterprises.

Wei Jian, chairman of the feedstuff factory, said the factory had prepared enough inventory ahead of the holidays so it could save on doling out overtime salaries for the 100-plus workers it employs.

”The prices of grain and raw materials have kept going up and production costs have been increasing, making it difficult for the factory to survive,” said Wei.

He said pork prices have been down since the beginning of this year due to an oversupply from last year, resulting in farmers being unwilling to raise pigs and, thus, a decline in feedstuff orders.

Chen and his colleagues filed a request for the factory to allow them to continue working during the holidays.

“Eight days is quite a long period, and we can’t just sit there, doing nothing,” said Chen.

After negotiations, the factory finally agreed to let them work during the holidays.

”Overtime means 10,000 yuan or more in extra salaries.

We probably cannot make a profit this year,” sighed Wei.

Mid-Autumn Day, which fell last Sunday this year, is supposed to be a Chinese holiday for family reunions, but Chen was reluctant to return home, as it would have cost him more than one month’s salary.

“My son will enter college soon, and I have to save money for his tuition,” he said.

Rescheduling holidays can ease tensions

By He Bolin  (China Daily)

October 05, 2012- The “Golden Week” holidays have become peak traveling seasons and a time for traffic jams, huge crowds and numerous complaints.

Perhaps traffic snarls, and the mad rush for flight, railway and bus tickets could be reduced if more holidays are declared, as some Internet users suggest.

A survey of 30,000 people, conducted by the Institute of Social Science Survey of Peking University, showed on average people work 8.66 hours a day.

Some workaholics end up working more than 77 hours a week, almost twice the legal limit of 40 hours.

But they get a mere 21 days of paid leave. In terms of paid leave, China is believed to be the third from the bottom in the list of countries.

Therefore, many netizens have suggested that more paid leave could ease the pressure on buses, trains and flights, because people will travel at different times instead of just once or twice a year.

Especially for this longest-ever eight-day Golden Week holiday from Sept 30 to Oct 7, as there will be some 362 million travelers on the move during the holiday, according to an estimate by the China Tourism Academy.

And the foreseeable travel peak can also be attributed to the government’s new policy that exempts passenger cars with seven seats or less from highway tolls during the leisure period.

As the prospect has raised calls online for more holidays, but there are different opinions.

Dai Xuefeng, deputy director of and research fellow at the Tourism Research Center, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says people in China do not get fewer days’ leave.

The only change the authorities should make is to reschedule the existing holidays rather than introducing more.

Citing the Regulation on Public Holidays for National Annual Festivals and Memorial Days, he says Chinese people are entitled to 115 days off a year from weekends and statutory holidays.

So they don’t work for one-third of a year.

The problem, he argues, is that the paid leave system is not well implemented by employers in the Chinese mainland, and law enforcement officers are not powerful enough to ensure they do.

There is a big difference in practice in China and other countries, Dai says.

People in other countries, especially in advanced economies, exercise their rights to go on leave and are supported by a strong legal and cultural environment.

In China, people will think twice asking for paid leave as it is viewed as akin to seeking extra benefits, while employers deny such requests when they want the employees to keep working.

Hence, the related authorities should supervise employers to follow the regulations more strictly and grant the employees their legal rights.

There’s a mad travel rush during the “Golden Week” holidays because people do not take long journeys during shorter holidays.

The government shortened the May Day “Golden Week” holiday to three days in 2009 and added two other short vacations to the list.

This has prompted many Chinese to spend more time at home, as opposed to traveling and spending abroad, and boosted the domestic market.

Besides, considering people won’t make long journeys during other short vacations, the only long vacation of the Golden Week has concentrated too many long trip plans and thus has a “crowding out effect” that is partly attributable to the feeling of fewer holidays.

To help boost domestic consumption, the authorities can reschedule the holidays and grant people more longer holidays.

Moreover, while domestic tourism can help boost the national economy, traveling abroad is of equal importance to broaden people’s horizons and expand their minds, and it’s a major step for Chinese people to accommodate themselves into globalization, Dai adds.

Fewer road accidents during National Day holiday

2012-10-08 (Xinhua), BEIJING – China reported 68,422 cases of road accidents during the National Day holiday that ended on Sunday, a year-on-year decrease of 24.1 percent, according to the traffic bureau under the Ministry of Public Security.

These accidents, which occurred between September 30 and October 7, killed altogether 794 people and led to direct economic losses worth 13.25 million yuan (2.1 million U.S. dollars), which dropped by 46.2 percent and 37 percent, respectively, year-on-year.

In the most serious case during the period, 14 people were killed after two passenger coaches collided on an expressway in east China’s Shandong Province on Sunday.

During the holiday, police across the country were ordered to arrange special personnel to guide traffic flow in severe weather and key routes.

Additionally, police imposed strengthened safety checks on passenger buses and trucks carrying dangerous chemicals, as well as harsher punishments for drunk driving, fatigue driving, speeding and other road malpractices.

Holiday crowds show nation’s dilemma

(Global Times) October 08, 2012 – The long holiday for the Mid-autumn Festival and National Day have ended. Many people complain about traffic jams and overcrowding during the holidays. Most people go back to work today.

It’s time for us to summarize this long holiday.

The crowded long holiday shows that China’s domestic demand is huge. The actual situation of our national economy is not as bad as some people speculated.

China is an economy which is difficult to manage precisely. In other words, our management capabilities do not match current social and economic activities, which are very active. However, at the same time, they are also quite chaotic.

China has a large population. As increasing number of people are engaging in tourism, Western management methods and ideas cannot deal with China’s problem of too many people traveling at the same time.

Previously, a population of 1.3 billion was only a stationary number to us. But currently, this number can exert a huge impact. A large number of Chinese people are becoming more aware of their rights.

The increasingly better-off Chinese are demanding more quality products, better service and infrastructure. But these cannot be reached just with money in a short period of time. The public takes it for granted that China nowadays should be as orderly as any developed country. Massive traffic jams during the holidays can greatly frustrate Chinese.

But these jams are not difficult to comprehend. The Forbidden City reportedly received 18 million tourists in one day this holiday, with most of the tourists coming from outside Beijing. In order to prevent the Forbidden City from becoming overcrowded, it would be necessary to block at least half of the tourists. There aren’t really any other options.

Preventing a population swarm during the holidays is a big challenge. We often hear radical suggestions that sound reasonable but are impossible to carry out. It is completely different to compare all French tourists going to the Palais de Versailles and all Chinese tourists swarming to the Forbidden City.

Chinese governments have to be aware that managing a well-off society is no less difficult than managing a poor society. Governments need to be more professional and devoted to providing this service. Meanwhile, a good communication strategy and better adaptation are essential for today’s governments.

All kinds of emergencies frequently happen in China nowadays. While learning from advanced countries, Chinese people need to be realistic in their expectations.

Crowded as it was, the holiday shouldn’t have been overwhelmed by negative moods. After all, many people are able to go out and enjoy a long-anticipated vacation. Let’s not forget this fact when commenting on this busy holiday.

High-speed railway passengers surge in holiday

BEIJING, 2012-10-08 (Xinhua) – Beijing railway stations saw greater numbers of passengers than last year during the recent eight-day national holiday, with the number of high-speed railway travelers up significantly, railway authorities said Monday.

As of Oct 7, the last day of the eight-day holiday, a daily average of 75,000 passengers had taken the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, up 74 percent from the same period last year, the Beijing Railway Bureau said.

Between Sept 27 and Oct 7, the Beijing railway stations saw nearly 9.06 million passengers, a rise of 12 percent year on year. A total of 418 temporary trains were put into service during the holiday to cope with the surging demand.

Lasting from Sept 30 to Oct 7, the holiday this year bridged the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day Holiday and created a longer peak travel period that began on Sept 27.