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Learn Chinese: Why is Labour Day a peak travel period in China?

By Juwai, 27 April 2018
chinese family travel

Did you know, Labour Day was once a 7-day public holiday known as the third Golden Week in China?

Based on the Western Labour Day holiday, which originated in Europe during 1891, Labour Day – commonly referred to as May Day or “五一” (WÇ” YÄ«) in China – was designated as a public holiday in China during 1949.1

Like the original holiday in the West, Labour Day in China falls on 1 May each year, and celebrates the working classes and labourers. However, in China, this holiday lasts for three whole days instead of one day, which turns it into yet another long weekend break much anticipated by Chinese.

How did this come about? We take a step back into the past.


The beginnings of Labour Day in China

Although Labour Day was first introduced into China around 1918, it only became a national holiday in 1949, shortly after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).1

Fast forward 50 years later, Labour Day was then established as one of the three Golden Week holidays from 1999 onward.2

The three Golden Weeks were set around Chinese New Year, Labour Day, and National Day (1 October) by the China government in a bid to boost domestic tourism.2

In 2008, though, the Labour Day Golden Week was reduced to make way for three other traditional festivals – namely Qingming (Tomb-Sweeping Day), Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival – to become national holidays as well.1

Today, Labour Day is essentially a one-day public holiday in China. However, two other ‘supplementary holidays’ have been added together with Labour Day to turn it into a three-day 'Mini Golden Week' break from 29 April till 1 May.3, 4

These ‘supplementary holidays’ will be then compensated with additional official work days on the weekend either before or after Labour Day.3, 4


Rising outbound travel during May Day

Although Labour Day is no longer classified as a Golden Week in China, it remains a peak travel period for Chinese.

In fact, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism projects 149 million Chinese will travel domestically and rake in 88 billion yuan ($13.9 billion) this 2018 Labour Day.5 And while Labour Day has long been popular as a domestic travel holiday, Chinese outbound tourism is gradually picking up over the May Day holidays as well.

41% of Chinese consumers on Chinese online travel agency travelled overseas during Labour Day holiday in 2017.6

That said, where could Chinese outbound travellers be heading to this upcoming Labour Day?

According to China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Chinese overseas travellers currently heavily favour Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.5 Besides that, Canada, France, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also increasingly attracting outbound Chinese tourists.5

Considering 77% of Chinese have property purchase intentions in mind when travelling overseas, as revealed by our 2018 Chinese International Travel Survey, this bodes well for international agents or developers in any of the above countries.

With just days to go before Labour Day, it’s time to hustle as now’s the time to gear up and prepare the welcome mat for prospective Chinese buyers that could be heading your way.



Sources: 1. SupChina: Fun facts about Labor Day in China; 2. Tourism in China by Kaye Sung Chon, Zhang Guangrui, Alan A. Lew, John Ap, Lawrence Yu; 3. Wikipedia: International Workers’ Day; 4. Grandage Consulting: 2018 – China’s official holidays; 5. People’s Daily Online: China’s Labor Day revenue expected to hit $13.9 billion; 6. Dragon Tail Interactive: The ultimate guide to Chinese holidays for the outbound tourism industry;