A paid annual leave system in mainland China might be beneficial for Macau’s tourism market as it could take pressure off major holiday periods, said analysts at Union Gaming Research Macau Ltd.
The State Council of China on Monday shut down the National Holiday Office, a body responsible for scheduling the country’s national holidays. The office was disbanded after 14 years of operations and ahead of China’s major Golden Week holiday, which starts on October 1.
The office will be incorporated into a new – and in administrative terms more senior – ministerial joint conference that is led by Vice Premier Wang Yang.
The new body involves 28 ministries and has been asked to boost domestic tourism under what is referred to as a macro-strategic development plan, according to Chinese media.
“This is the first time that holiday related issues have been brought up before the State Council,” Union Gaming analysts Grant Govertsen and Felicity Chiang wrote in a report on Thursday.
The note added: “We believe the formation of the new conference indicates that the central government is moving one step closer towards implementing an annual leave system sooner rather than later.”
Cai Jiming, a professor at Tsinghua University, was quoted by Xinhua, an official Chinese news agency, as saying that any changes should move in the direction of privately scheduled, paid holidays. “Pieced-together vacations might still be in existence for a while, but paid vacations are definitely the way to go,” he said.
The move could help meet individuals’ travel needs and relieve pressure during state-mandated, nationwide vacations.
Currently, most Chinese workers are only eligible for the national statutory holidays – the so-called Golden Weeks – that have produced larger and larger crowds as the majority of the population travels during the same periods. That puts enormous pressure on transportation networks and certain popular destinations including Macau and Hong Kong.
“We believe the introduction of paid annual leave will be beneficial to Macau’s visitation, as it would likely serve to smooth visitation patterns and take pressure off major holiday periods also known as the Golden Weeks, where border facilities are overloaded and enormous crowds strain Macau’s already-taxed infrastructure,” Mr Govertsen and Ms Chiang said.
The analysts also highlighted that the implementation of an annual leave system “would also result in new customers who might previously have been precluded from coming to Macau due to the inflexibility of vacation periods”.
“The implementation will be gradual and will likely take a number of years before it becomes widespread,” Union Gaming added.
China’s next such mass vacation event is the imminent National Day Golden Week Holiday, from October 1 to October 7.
An exit-entry permit system allowing mainland China passport holders to journey to and from Macau and Hong Kong went digital for all Chinese travellers on Monday, according to Xinhua.
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