Beijing: In order to ramp-up domestic consumption to avoid economic crisis due to declining exports, China's experiment of granting longer holidays to coax people to travel is paying off as millions taking to roads raking up billions of dollars of spending, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
An estimated 362 million Chinese were on the move since September 30 during the current Golden Week holiday to celebrate National Day and the Mid Autumn Festival clogging the road, rain and air networks all over the country, it said.
Official media say millions of cars were on the highways returning to Beijing from various destinations, as the holidays ended on Sunday.
A total of 119 scenic areas had received 6.04 million tourists in the first two days of the holiday, according to official statistics.
The surge was partially driven by a new government policy that has made most expressways in the country toll free during the holiday period for passenger cars with fewer than seven seats.
Golden Week is the second-longest holiday in addition the fortnight long spring festival to mark the Chinese New Year during which 1.3 billion strong population moves from one end to another.
Tourism is playing a big revival in China's fledgling economy as it witnessed a boom inbound and outbound tourism during 2011 ranking it to be the third largest in both the areas raking up USD 35 billion last year, Xinhua reported.
Considering the importance, the Chinese government has been giving extended holidays for various occasions like May Day and Dragon Boat festivals as it enables to people to travel besides purchasing vast amount of gifts besides eating out and reveling.
It is seen as an important component of China's plans to revive the domestic consumption which constitutes only about 36 percent of the country's GDP and the rest on exports, the state-run news agency said.
China's reported 7.6 percent economic growth in the first half of this year, its lowest in more than three years.
In August, the manufacturing purchasing managers' index dipped below 50 points for the first time in nine months.
Exports remained weak, growing only 2.7 percent in August from a year earlier.
China's stock market performance looks very dismal, too.
It has kept hitting new lows, making investors' sentiments the most bearish ever prompting people to wonder whether, "China's economic miracle is over", Xinhua reported.
Officials think holidays and leisure could trigger consumption as the per capita disposable income of urban households rose to over USD 3,100.
Also the long holidays are spurring hardworking Chinese to relax.
A survey of 30,000 people, conducted by the Institute of Social Science Survey of Peking University, showed on average people work 8. 66 hours a day.
Some workaholics end up working more than 77 hours a week, almost twice the legal limit of 40 hours. But they get a mere 21 days of paid leave.
In terms of paid leave, China is believed to be the third from the bottom in the list of countries, according to state run China Daily.
"To help boost domestic consumption, the authorities can reschedule the holidays and grant people more longer holidays," the Daily said.
First Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012, 14:53