Use paid leave to ease holiday crowds
China Daily

People visit the ancient city wall scenic spot in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, April 30, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)

If you were traveling during the just-concluded May Day holiday, you are sure to have encountered one thing wherever you went — traffic jams.

In Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu province, so many tourists went to try camel-riding that the city reported a "camel jam", with more than 100 camels ferrying riders at one point.

A photograph from Qomolangma in the Tibet autonomous region showed some 30-40 tourists queuing up to climb the mountain on April 27, indicative of how the holiday rush set in early.

The second long holiday after the three-year-long COVID-19 pandemic, the May Day holiday unleashed people's enthusiasm for travel to faraway places, but the traffic jams and long queues proved to be a dampener. Another dampener was the jacking up of hotel room rates, with some hotels raising it five-fold and others canceling pre-orders to jack up room tariff, upsetting tourists' travel plans.

At the center of all the problems tourists faced was this: too many people at the same place. With an estimated 240 million tourists traveling during the five days, traffic jams and long queues were but expected.

However, solutions exist. In 1995, the Labor Law granted people the right to paid leave, which was further consolidated with an implementation code in 2008. If everyone exercised this right fully, getting five extra days if they have worked for less than five years and 10 days if they have worked for more than that, then the holidays would have been longer for some, and less crowded.

Data, however, show that on average working people in China enjoy only 6.29 days of paid leave a year, while those working in private enterprises enjoy less than four days. Unless people's right to paid leave is fully protected, holidays would mean more rush and more traffic jams.