Holiday economics has become a policy

The news that Malacañang has extended the long weekend of the first week of April was gladly met by both tourism industry players and vacation seekers. The President announced on March 14 to move the observance of the April 9, Araw ng Kagitingan, the next day, thus completing an extended long weekend from Maundy Thursday, April 6, to Monday, April 10.

In taking the move, the Office of the President referred to Proclamation No. 90 issued by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in November 2022. “The commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan, April 9, which is a regular holiday falls on a Sunday for the year 2023. To enable our countrymen to avail of the benefits of a longer weekend, Monday, April 10, 2023, in lieu of Sunday, April 9, 2023, may be declared as a non-working holiday, provided that the historical significance of Araw ng Kagitingan is maintained,” Proclamation No. 90 read.

The practice of what we now call “holiday economics” results in the creation of long weekends, moving national holidays closer to Saturday or Sunday if necessary in order to stimulate travel and boost tourism. Holiday economics was started by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and had become acceptable to most sectors, except of course to workers who are not permanently employed who fall under the no-work, no-pay policy.

Other presidents who succeeded Arroyo chose to adopt this policy, noting that revenues from tourism, travel, the hospitality industry and consumer spending well outweigh the disadvantages inherent in such a practice. Under the present circumstances when the government badly needs revenues from all possible sources, including local and foreign tourism, harnessing holiday economics will potentially contribute much in jumpstarting economic recovery.

Critics have said that moving the commemoration of a holiday from its actual date risks eroding the spirit of the holiday. They said people must value the actual date of a particular event in our history for it brings a deeper reflection on its significance. Even President Arroyo took a barrage of criticisms when she moved May 1 Labor Day, the international day of the working class, to another date.

But there are many who think that “if we are able to instill patriotic or essential values in each of us, it really does not matter when a particular historical event or person is celebrated.”

Experts in the academe have suggested that the government and private institutions would need to undertake studies that will formally assess the contribution of holiday economics to actual economic output.

While the debate on the negative and positive effects of holiday economics continues, we praise President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos for declaring the extra-long weekend this April two weeks ahead, providing enough time for Filipinos to plan their vacation.