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No-star Hotels Seek Foreign Capital

Beijing authorities plan to establish a range of projects to attract overseas investors to a share of the Olympic pie.

It includes an upgrade of facilities and services in the city's 4,000-plus hotels that are not currently star-rated. This will help meet the inflow of tourists during 2008's games, said Wen Ziji, vice-director of Beijing Tourism Bureau.

The capital estimates that 4.4 million foreign and 100 million Chinese travelers will visit that year. In August, during the games, 600,000 foreigners and 1.1 million Chinese are expected to pour into Beijing.

To accommodate this huge upsurge in visitors, Beijing needs at least 200 star-rated hotels with 30,000 rooms in addition to the current 600 hotels with 100,000 rooms, said Wen.

"It's a huge potential market as the number of foreign tourists to Beijing is expected to go up by 7 percent annually," he added during a two-day international hotel industry forum that opened on Wednesday in Beijing.

The World Tourism Organization forecast that China will surpass France to become the world's leading tourist destination by 2020, when inbound tourists may reach 210 million, bringing over 2,500 billion yuan (US$302 billion) with them.

Another plan is to open up the management of 300-plus scenic spots as well as some cultural heritage sites to foreign investors.

"Foreign institutions are encouraged to participate in the design, reconstruction and management of these commercial scenic spots, such as the Longqing Gorge in Yanqing County and the Hongluo Resort in Huairou District," said Wen.

"As to the heritage sites, the opening-up is somewhat complicated due to the Law on Cultural Relics Protection, which stipulates that heritage sites cannot be operated as enterprises," Wen continued, "But the facilities and the management there also need improvement. My bureau is considering selecting a batch of heritage sites to introduce foreign companies on a trial basis."

He said the list of the pilot heritage sites will be made public at an Olympic Economy Promotion Conference in April next year.

(China Daily November 11, 2004)                   

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