The May Day bank holiday could be scrapped and replaced with a new holiday in the autumn, under plans being considered by the Government.
The possible move to an October bank holiday – potentially called UK Day or Trafalgar Day – follows calls from the tourism industry for a better spread of public holidays across the year.
But unions accused the Tories of attacking the celebration of international workers’ day on May 1.
Government sources denied there was any political dimension to the proposal and stressed that it was subject to consultation. It will be contained in a forthcoming tourism strategy.
Tourism Minister John Penrose said: “Tourism businesses in the UK are brilliant at providing a quality experience for their customers all year round, but Government should play its part in helping them do so.
“An autumn bank holiday, possibly to be branded as a new UK Day, would not only help the industry but also give us all a new focus for celebrating the best of what this country does, and all the things that make us a world-class nation.
“But before we try to take this further, it’s really important that everyone has a chance to consider it properly.
“If people decide they’d rather hang on to the May Day holiday, then so be it, but we ought to consider the options in a sensible way before the country reaches a collective decision.”
Any change would not take place before 2013. There are additional bank holidays this year and next year to celebrate the royal wedding and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee respectively.
The Government is studying the move because the Easter holidays can fall very close to the May Day bank holiday, while an autumn holiday – during the half-term break – would help promote the tourism industry in the later part of the year.