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A suggestion that the weeklong National Day holiday be scrapped has sparked heated debate. (来源:英语杂志 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

Cai Jiming, a professor with Tsinghua University, told the Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News on Monday that "when conditions get better" the holiday should be deleted from the calendar.

"If a paid leave policy can be implemented well by companies, the weeklong National Day holiday can be scrapped in the future," he said.

It was his suggestion that pushed China to reform its nine-year-old Golden Week holiday system.

This year, the three golden weeks were cut to two and three new holidays added to celebrate traditional Chinese festivals.

While people are still trying to adjust to the new system, Cai's suggestion has sparked new anger.

An online survey of nearly 50,000 people showed that 78 percent of respondents opposed his suggestion.

The predominant reason being it would reduce the opportunity for people to travel, and affect family reunions.

Only 18 percent supported Cai. They said it could ease pressure on transportation and the environment. The rest had no opinion.

Major online forums have been flooded with arguments that the golden weeks are the only "justified and guaranteed" holidays for many people.

"Three days (of the added holidays) are too short to get a good rest or travel, and a paid leave policy is still unlikely to be guaranteed in my company," Wang Yingchao, from a real estate agency in Beijing, said.

Cai admitted it is currently difficult to guarantee all people will benefit from a paid vacation policy.

"It need the efforts of the entire society to push for implemention of a good policy," he said.

Cai said his team will study how a general paid leave policy can be implemented and what effect the added holidays have had on the people.

Other experts said the National Day holiday could last for some years to come.

Liu Siming, a tourism researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Nanfang Daily that it could be retained for at least a decade.

Liu believed the government does not want to cancel golden weeks, and this year's reform was a necessary response to the lingering dispute over the matter.

The tourism industry said the reform had caused big losses.

Zhang Lingjie, deputy general manager of the domestic tourism department with China International Travel Service, estimated the loss at 10 to 20 percent of annual revenue.

"If the weeklong National Day is canceled, it will be another big blow for us," he said.

However, Cai believed that China has entered a new era in holiday reform. They are aimed at culture and social goals, not economic ones.

Business brisk for travel firms

The National Day holiday will be a brisk week for travel, insiders have said.

Online travel firm Ctrip.com said its peak for overseas trip bookings came 20 days early this year, and tour packages to some destinations have almost sold out.

Bookings for trips to Olympic venue cities, such as Beijing, Qingdao and Hong Kong, have also risen 20 percent for the golden week, it said.

Guo Guang, a manager with Ctrip.com, said the main reason for the increase is that there are only two long holidays this year.

"People wanting to travel further afield have had to wait for the National Day holiday," he said.

Zheng Nianjun, a travel service manager from Guangzhou, said the upcoming holiday could be see sales rise 30 percent to make it the "briskest Golden Week ever".

However, some travel firms in Beijing have reported a different picture, saying other factors have diluted people's enthusiasm for travel.

Chen Xianlian, a spokesman for China Travel Service, said sales had not been as brisk as forecast. The natural disasters that hit a number of tourist spots this year have dampened demand, he said.

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)

 
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