Short May Day Break Keeps Travellers Closer to Home

By: Mercier

Short-distance tour packages have become more attractive to Chinese people who are enjoying the first shortened May Day holiday since 1999.The May Day holiday was shortened this year from a week to three days.A Beijing-based online travel agency said most travelers from Beijing chose to visit cities or coastlines nearby rather than destinations across the country.

Meanwhile, many travel agencies complained that overseas journeys had not been as attractive as they were to May Day travelers in the past couple of years. "Travelers have more money, but they don't have enough time in the May Day case," one travel agent said.Rates of most overseas tour packages have been reduced by at least 15 percent compared with last year. But buyers dropped by one-third before the May Day started.

People are interested in trips to Hong Kong and Macau, which are near to the mainland, but were reluctant to buy tour packages to Southeast Asia or Europe, agents said.Statistics from the railway also supported the trend of short journeys.

China decided in 1999 to design two more holiday weeks on May Day and National Day, in addition to the Spring Festival holiday week, to spur domestic spending and offset the economic downturn triggered by the 1997 Asian financial crisis.The holidays, called "golden weeks," immediately saw tides of tourists and rocketing sales earnings but also strained transport and other service capabilities, causing complains from holiday makers. The government decided to shorten the May Day holidays last year but added two other days to the national holiday package - Qingming, or tomb-sweeping day, in spring and Mid-Autumn Festival.

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