Longer weekends promoted to improve tourism | Inquirer Lifestyle
A tourist jumps as sun sets in the background in Qingdao, Shandong province, August 10, 2015. China Daily/ANN

Longer weekends promoted to improve tourism

A tourist jumps as sun sets in the background in Qingdao, Shandong province, August 10, 2015. China Daily/ANN
A tourist jumps as sun sets in the background in Qingdao, Shandong province, August 10, 2015. China Daily/ANN

Employees should be given more flexibility in summer to take half-day vacations on Fridays, giving them extra time for weekend travel and boosting the tourism industry, the State Council suggested.

“These measures can help employees use their vacation time to travel more flexibly and avoid the peak traveling season, which would greatly ease the pressure on the transportation, tourism, commercial and catering sectors,” said Wu Wenxue, deputy head of the China National Tourism Administration. “It could also tap the full potential of tourism consumption.”

The lack of paid holidays has been blamed for overcrowding in many scenic spots during public holidays.

Zhang Ying from Wuxi, Jiangsu province, said she is excited about the news but worried about the implementation. “We cannot take annual leave in the first five years of work, not to mention more holidays,” said Zhang, 29.

Zheng Dongliang, director of the Work Science Research Institute, a research branch of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said it is more practical to gradually promote the system in certain regions rather than in the whole country.

“Currently, many employers cannot follow the regulations for eight-hour workdays and two-day weekends for their employees, not to mention another half-day holiday every week,” said Zheng. “Many enterprises are struggling during the ongoing economic transformation. Increasing holidays means more labor costs for businesses.”

“For certain companies, more paid holidays can play a positive role to attract talent or motivate employees, but it is unrealistic to implement the system on a very large scale.”

Xi Jianchao, associate research fellow of tourism at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said two and a half days off every week could promote leisure tourism around cities.

“Two and a half days is not enough for a long journey. However, it does attract people to visit neighboring areas, such as people from Shanghai going to Jiangsu province and Zhejiang province, or Beijing residents to Hebei province or Shandong province,” said Xi.