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Golden Week to return for lucky few

THE May Day Golden Week is expected to make a comeback in only one province in China this year, as the provincial government of Guangdong was given the green light on Monday to revive the long holiday on a trial basis to stimulate the groaning economy.

China cut the May Day holiday from seven days to three days in 2007 to ease the burden on the nation's overcrowded transport system.

Yang Rongsen, head of the provincial tourism bureau, said on Monday that Guangdong residents and those with temporary resident permits in Guangdong are encouraged to take long leaves around legal holidays such as May Day and National Day in October. The pilot program agreed by China's Cabinet took effect on Monday.

As the export-oriented manufacturing center Guangdong has been hard-hit by the financial downturn, the provincial government hoped holiday spending could help revive the market.

Guangdong's exports fell 31 percent year-on-year in January to US$36.6 billion as demands from its major export markets in the United States and Europe shrank dramatically.

Huang Huahua, governor of Guangdong, said he believes Guangdong's holiday economy has the potential to bolster the sluggish economy.

Figures from the tourism bureau showed credit card spending in the province during the week-long Chinese New Year holiday last month hit 2.2 billion yuan (US$322 million).

Zheng Nianjun, a veteran tourist expert, said the holiday program could stimulate Guangdong's tourism by 500 billion yuan this year.

Yang said the government is drafting detailed measures to boost the holiday economy.


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