China’s ‘Golden Week’ losing its luster; Critics say the holiday causes traffic chaos, large crowds and high levels of stress

‘Golden Week’ losing its luster

Updated: 2013-10-06 08:58

By He Na and Tang Yue ( China Daily)Critics say the holiday causes traffic chaos, large crowds and high levels of stress

Hou Xin, a native of Harbin city in Heilongjiang province, has been working at a public relationsconsultancy in Beijing for eight years. This year’s National Day holiday, often known as “GoldenWeek”, was the first time that both his and his wife’s parents have visited them in the Chinesecapital.

Hou and his wife Yang Rui, a kindergarten teacher, had planned to show their relatives aroundfamous tourist sites. In preparation, they had devised a detailed list of departure times, atimetable for each visit and earmarked places to eat.

However, halfway through the seven-day holiday the family group had only visited the SummerPalace and the Palace Museum.

The four parents refused to visit any other sites, complaining that they were too tired afterfighting through the crowds. Moreover, they said they had not seen any of the beauty spotsbecause of the overcrowding.

Hou and Yang weren’t the only ones to be disappointed with the holiday crowds and traffic.Countless tourists also felt the same way. Complaints about the holiday, which people jokinglyreferred to as a “paid painful journey”, came from all quarters.

Now, experts have suggested extending the holiday or even reintroducing the weeklong LaborDay holiday in May to reduce the flow of tourists.

More harm than good?

Some even claimed the holiday does more harm than good to both the health of the touristsand the development of the economy, and advised the widespread introduction of paidvacations instead of the current system of long, nationwide holidays.

Tourist resorts came under severe pressure because of the sudden influx of visitors andmeasures to cap numbers were employed in some of the most popular places. The NationalHoliday Office received 55 complaints from irate tourists on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sources at the Tian’anmen Square Administrative Committee said the square has receivedmore than 500,000 people during the past three days, while the Palace Museum had 154,100visitors and the Summer Palace received 108,400 people on Thursday alone.

Although China’s main tourist attractions have seen an unprecedented surge in visitornumbers, the economic contribution of Golden Week is lower than many people imagine, saidexperts.

Many people travel during the holiday, but that doesn’t necessarily result in an increase in totaltourist revenues across the entire year, according to Cai Jiming, director of TsinghuaUniversity’s Political Economy Research Center, speaking to China News Service.

In the 13 years before 1999, the year Golden Week was introduced, China’s tourism revenuesaw a compound annual growth rate of 28.75 percent on average. However, that has slowed to17.91 percent in the last 13 years, according to a study conducted by a Tsinghua researchgroup on holiday reform, headed by Cai.

“While Golden Week boosts tourism over a specific period of time, the negative impact it has onhigh-added-value sectors, such as the stock and futures markets and import and export trade,often goes unnoticed,” said Cai.

The increase in tourist consumption depends on people’s incomes rather than Golden Week,he said, because people often reduce their spending on clothes, food, housing and educationfees in order to save money for travel expenses.

For many people, the Golden Week holiday is not a given. According to the holidayarrangements issued by the State Council annually, many people had to work eight days out ofnine immediately before this year’s holiday.

This year, to guarantee three-day holidays for Labor Day and the Dragon Boat Festival, plus afurther week for Spring Festival, people had to work seven days in a row before each break.Many also worked eight consecutive days following the Jan 1 to 3 holiday to celebrate NewYear.

The arrangement violates China’s Labor Law, which stipulates that workers should have atleast one day off per week.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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