In a bid to give a hard-working nation the “simple pleasure” of more time off, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) has given tentative backing to increasing the number of public holidays.
The Cabinet is considering three proposals, the premier told lawmakers on Tuesday.
The first would be to make the Lunar New Year holiday nine days long, regardless of which day it begins and ends, he said.
The second is to make up holidays that fall on a weekend on the preceding or following weekdays, and the third would be to make widely marked celebrations such as Christmas and the Lantern Festival national holidays.
Jiang said he had set a target date of the middle of next month for inter-agency discussions of the ideas, adding that “it would be impossible to implement all three.”
Taiwan has 11 annual public holidays, but next year only New Year’s Day on Jan. 1 and the Lunar New Year in the middle of February will fall on weekdays.
That means the number of holidays and weekend days next year will total 109, which Deputy Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) said is fewer than in many countries.
Workers in Japan and South Korea have 119 days off, while Hong Kong and Singapore have at least 115 days off, he said.
Any move to increase holidays is likely to be received well by workers, but the response from business leaders has been mixed.
General Chamber of Commerce president Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰) called the proposals a reasonable way to make up for an unfortunate calendar, saying that he believed most employers will sympathize with their workers.
Chinese National Federation of Industries secretary-general Tsai Lien-sheng (蔡練生) said workers do not care about getting time off as long as they have a job, adding that a single day off for employees is money lost for a company.
Taiwanese workers already enjoy “more holidays than neighboring rival countries,” Tsai said, without offering specifics.
The travel and tourism sector seems excited by the idea that more weekdays off would bring more domestic spending.
Travel Agent Association of ROC Taiwan secretary-general Roget Hsu (許高慶) said a nine-day Lunar New Year break could easily bring in 20 percent to 30 percent more revenue for tourism-related businesses than this year’s six-day holiday period did.
However, it would make things easier for both travelers and travel agencies if they know well ahead of time exactly how many days each year’s Lunar New Year break will be, Lion Travel Service Co vice general manager Andy Yu (游國珍) said.
Lion is one of the nation’s biggest travel agencies.
Encouraging spending on domestic travel could be a good way to boost the economy, Tourism Bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Shi-Chung (張錫聰) said.
When people have money, they need a way to relax and places to spend their hard-earned cash, he said.