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Thanks to APEC, Beijing gets another ‘Golden Week’

A general view of the APEC logo at Olympic Park in Beijing, China.
ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images
A general view of the APEC logo at Olympic Park in Beijing, China.

When major world leaders descend upon Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on November 7, many locals will be on holiday.

Beijing's government workers have been given a six-day break as part of the host nation's plan to curb air pollution and ease traffic when twenty one heads of state, including U.S. President Barack Obama, arrive, fueling a vacation boom.

"Our trips departing from Beijing are selling very well now. With attractive off-peak prices and support from the local government, the APEC holiday is building up to be another 'Golden Week' for tourism," said a representative of China International Travel Service (CITS).

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Golden Week – a semi-annual seven-day holiday that recently occurred in October in conjunction with China's National Day – is a prime travel period for mainlanders.

Employees in Beijing are only entitled to a maximum of 11 days paid annual leave, so many are seizing the opportunity for a short vacation within Asia. The Beijing Municipal Government saw a 40 percent on-year rise in travel document applications in October, according to Chinese media reports.

"As soon as the news was released, the number of calls we received inquiring about short-distance overseas trips went up by 50 percent. Many people want to visit South Korea, along with Taiwan, Japan and Southeast Asia," said Chen Duan, deputy general manager of Beijing Mytour International Travel Service, reported state broadcaster CCTV.

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Domestic travel is also in high demand, with routes from Beijing to eastern China nearly "sold out," according to the mainland's official train ticket sales website. Authorities will increase the frequency of high-speed trains during the APEC summit to facilitate travel between Beijing and popular eastern cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hefei.

On Sina's Weibo – China's Twitter-like microblogging site – it's not uncommon to find messages welcoming the unexpected holidays.

A user named Yuan Shuai said: "A 6-day break is a godsend. Thank you APEC for the holiday!"

Another wrote: "My parents are bringing me overseas during the APEC holiday, but the weather in Beijing has been so good I think we should be staying here to enjoy while it lasts. Will it be smog again when we return?"

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But not all are happy with the break.

Artist Lin Tong told CNBC that the additional day-offs caught her and other non-government employees unprepared.

"I have to make arrangements for my 5-year-old who doesn't need to go to school and it's not easy to get that done given the short notice," she said. "The government should have just given the holiday to everyone so that it won't be so inconvenient."