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China's Golden Week has started and that means half the nation's 1.38 billion citizens are going on vacation

Thousands of visitors in Beijing during ‘Golden Week’ in 2011. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

China’s “Super Golden Week” holiday is in full swing, with more than 710 million locals expected to travel in the first week of October.

The National Day holiday, which celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China, is normally celebrated from October 1 to 7 and is known as “Golden Week”. However, due to the Lunar Calendar, this year the Mid-Autumn Festival also falls on October 4, so the national holiday period is extended to October 8.

For many workers, Golden Week and Chinese New Year are the only two times that its possible to take extended holidays. As a result, domestic travel skyrockets with locals heading home to see family or go travelling. There are frequent reports of crowded trains and congestion with 350 million travelling on the roads — on the weekend a two-hour trip from Guangzhou to Shenzhen, the closest mainland city to Hong Kong, was taking up to 10 hours.

This year, Beijing and the southern provinces will attract the most visitors, but Hong Kong’s tourism industry is looking strong with hotel bookings up from last year while Macau’s hotel rooms are fetching five times their normal price.

There are also six million Chinese travelers heading overseas, mostly to Thailand, Japan and Singapore.

Australia is also set to receive a number of tourists as well as potential investors that real estate agents hope will bring tens, if not hundreds, of millions into the economy. The week is so crucial that many pull out all the stops — including helicopter rides — to lure buyers.

Golden Week was created in 2000 by the Chinese government in an effort to increase domestic tourism and also increase quality of life. The next 8-day Super Golden Week should occur in 2020.

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