x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

China hotels seek room for growth

Just as tourism in China is in a buoyant state, so the hotel sector is expanding to cater to growing numbers of international and domestic visitors.

Just as tourism in China is in a buoyant state, so the hotel sector is expanding to cater to growing numbers of international and domestic visitors, although expansion has not been without missteps.

According to local media reports, as many as 100,000 rooms are coming on to the market in China this year, causing some analysts to express concern about a glut.

Last year, occupancy in five-star hotels in Beijing was reported to be just 47.5 per cent, with room rates averaging a modest 836 yuan (Dh461), a performance blamed on the global economic crisis and a downturn in demand after the end of the 2008 Olympics.

Gross operating profit per room in five-star hotels nationwide is said to have dropped for four years in a row.

Also, recent figures indicate a slight dip in room prices in major cities towards the end of this year after room rates were inflated in some tourist areas earlier in the year. However, there appears to be plenty of room for continued growth in the hotel sector, where at present there are just 0.05 rooms per 1,000 people compared with 6.2 rooms per 1,000 people in the US.

One budget chain that has already grown rapidly is Home Inn, which offers rooms for less than 100 yuan.

It has more than 650 hotels - up from 10 properties seven years ago.

Revenue jumped from 1.9 billion yuan in 2008 to 2.6bn yuan last year. Key attractions have been heritage sites such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.

Forbidden City

This home to emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties is Beijing city's top tourist attraction and the best-preserved group of historical buildings in the country. Highlights include the Hall of Supreme Harmony, which dates to the 15th century and hosted ceremonial events.

The Great Wall

Commonly visited in a day-trip from the capital, the Great Wall dates back more than 2,000 years to the Qin dynasty and was built to keep out raiding tribes from the north. Many parts of the wall, which stretches thousands of kilometres, have been heavily restored, while others have fallen into disrepair.

The Bund

This waterfront street in Shanghai was the city's financial hub and has an assortment of neoclassical buildings, mostly foreign banks and trading houses from the early 20th century. They have been reclaimed for the nation through the addition of Chinese flags to most of them.

Terracotta warriors

Just outside Xi'an, this extraordinary collection of figures was discovered by chance in 1974 by locals and now ranks as one of China's - and the world's - greatest tourist magnets. They date back more than 2,000 years and guarded the tomb of an emperor of the Qin dynasty, the first to unite China.