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Olympics homestay available to Asians
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Beijing's tourism authorities have said they are going to target visitors from other Asian countries as guests of the city's homestay scheme for the Olympics.

The city has already selected 571 families and hopes to have about 600 households as officially designated "Olympic Family Hotels" for Games tourists next month.

Beijing Tourism Bureau vice director Xiong Yumei said yesterday that visitors from Asian countries, including Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, would be introduced by travel agencies to the families.

Officials said bookings had not started since the family hotels had just been selected, but a 200-member tourist group from Malaysia was looking for homestay accommodation.

Xiong did not give a reason for choosing Asia as the major target, but travel agency insiders said the short marketing time and available transportation made it is easier to organize Asian tourist groups than Westerners.

Most of the selected families live near major stadiums, trunk roads or cultural sites, making it easy for overseas guests to enjoy life in the capital, according to the bureau.

The cost of each "Olympic Family Hotel" is US$50 to US$80 a night - about a seventh of the cost of a three- or four-star hotel.

Beijing is gearing up to accommodate at least 330,000 visitors every day during the Olympics. About 500,000 foreigners are expected to visit the capital at some point during the Games.

(Xinhua News Agency July 6, 2008)

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