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Keep the holiday short -- central government

CHINA'S central government has resisted the recent rush of regional governments proposing a return of the seven-day "golden week" for the May Day holiday and insisted on its three-day rule.

The General Office of the State Council issued a notice today asking local governments to follow strictly the holiday plans it has already published, China National Radio reported.

Random changes to the plans are banned.

The governments of Shanghai and Beijing said they have no plans for longer holidays and will follow the central government's plan.

The General Office of the State Council has published plans for this year's New Year, Spring Festival, Qing Ming Festival, May Day, Dragon boat Festival, Mid Autumn Festival and National Day.

It said that the holiday plans were designed after comprehensive research. They enriched the cultural content of the legal holidays and improved people's welfare. The government described the existing holiday plan as a success after a trial run last year.

The office also urged that proper preparations be made for the upcoming Qing Ming Festival and May Day holidays.

The notice is the central government's first response to several local governments recently proposing a return of the seven-day holiday for the May Day holiday.

China introduced three week-long holidays for Spring Festival, May Day and National holidays in 2000 to boost tourism.

Last year, it cut the seven-day holiday for May Day to three days to ease traffic during the long holidays and added more three-day short breaks on traditional Chinese festivals including Qing Ming, Dragon Boat and Mid-Autumn.

With local economies slowing with the global crisis, regional governments have been proposing the return of the long holiday to boost tourism and local economies.

Yesterday, Guangdong Province led the nation in formerly reintroducing the week-long holiday for May Day.

Other cities and provinces are working on proposals to restore the seven-day holiday.

Chongqing Municipality, Henan Province, Hunan Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have been proposing to run a trial restoration of the week-long holiday.

The cities of Hangzhou, Nanjing and Suzhou are also proposing their own plans. Under Hangzhou's plan, people would be encouraged to take a longer holiday by using days from annual paid leave, according to its tourism official, Hua Yunong.

But economists are warning local governments to be cautious about the holiday plans.

Zhang Guangrui, dean of the tourism research center of the Chinese Social Sciences Academy, said governments should not just take the economy into account when planning holidays.

"We can't adopt the longer holidays when we get into a financial crisis and abandon them when we are out," said Huo Deming, scholar with Peking University.

It would take a long time to prove if longer holidays help boost the economy, he added.


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