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Golden week, golden opportunities for foreign companies
Latest Updated by 2007-05-06 09:31:33
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Queuing to order the food took long enough but the woes of Nanjing native Wang Yan, his wife and 6 year-old son weren't over.

Tray in hand, they spent the next thirty minutes trying to find a vacant table in a McDonald's fastfood restaurant in Wangfujing, in the heart of Beijing, where thousands of tourists had congregated for the May Day holiday.

"They must be making a fortune," Mr. Wang said, munching on a hamburger in the street with his family, after despairing of finding a table inside the restaurant.

Chinese tourists with children in tow often choose foreign-invested fast food restaurants and hotels -- considered more expensive but more comfortable -- during golden week holiday travel.

China turned the statutory holidays of Spring Festival, International Labor Day and National Day into seven-day long holidays in 2000.

The extended holidays were such a boon for ordinary Chinese that they were soon known as "golden week holidays". They are also a golden business opportunity for foreign-invested service providers.

Senior managers from McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Pizza Hut may be on holiday during golden week, but their restaurants throughout the country were primed to deal with the rush.

The National Tourism Administration (NTA) estimates that 150 million tourists will travel around China during May Day holiday week, more than one tenth of the total Chinese population.

The restaurant where Mr. Wang failed to find a seat has spruced up decoration and food services in anticipation of the crowds. A manager, unwilling to be named, said the restaurant has tripled customer traffic in the first three days of the golden week.

On the endless beach at Yalong Bay in Sanya, China's southernmost city in Hainan Island, world famous chain hotels and resorts have also geared up for a wave of travelers.

Without a reservation made weeks ahead, rooms are scarce during golden week holidays, especially Spring Festival. "No vacancies" and "only suites with no discount" are the answers given by hotel reservation hotlines.

In the capital of southwest China's Sichuan province Chengdu, holiday shopping fever among local residents is also providing foreign companies with great opportunities.

"We definitely like holidays!", says Zhangzhen, media manager of Carrefour supermarket in Chengdu. "Sales are up 50 percent in the first two days compared with normal days."

"Home appliances are the top sellers," he added.

Zhang said that sales often increased by about 60 percent during the Spring Festival and other golden week holidays -- just like Christmas in Western countries. "Golden week holidays really stimulate people's consumption," Zhang said.

Aware of the potential of golden week holidays, the Chinese government has emphasized the importance of developing the service sector in the national economy.

In China, services represent only 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), compared with 52 percent in other developing countries and 72 percent in developed countries.

"Foreign capital has been wary of entering the service industry," said Hu Jingyan, a senior official with the Ministry of Commerce. "But, as the service sector opens, I believe it will attract more foreign capital."

Editor: Donald

By: Source: China View website
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