Beijing's hospitality market is expected to reach record revenues and occupancy rates in 2008 thanks to the Olympics.
Industry organizations are making great efforts to improve service quality in the capital's hotels for the event, expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors, said a local government official.
"Beijing's hospitality industry has experienced rapid growth in the last two years, and the momentum will continue in the lead-up to and even after the Olympics," said Xiong Yumei, deputy-director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Tourism (BMBT).
Beijing's hotels enjoyed good business throughout 2005, with five-star hotels witnessing the highest average daily revenue 1,204 yuan (US$150), with an occupancy rate of 75.3 per cent since 1994. Top-level hotels also had the highest ever revenue per available room 907 yuan (US$113) according to a report released by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, a leading worldwide service provider in the hotel and tourism sector.
"Market growth is positive and encouraging, and as the 2008 Olympics draw near, more and more tourists both from home and abroad will come to Beijing," said Stephen C. T. Hsu, vice-chairman of China Tourism Hotel Association. "Hotel management standards and service quality will also be gradually upgraded over the next two years."
In 2008, Beijing is expected to welcome more than 500,000 overseas and 1 million domestic travellers.
"Those figures are conservative estimates last year more than 1.5 million domestic travelers visited Beijing during the major holiday periods alone," said Xiong.
By 2008 the number of hotels in the city is expected to have grown to more than 800, from the present 548, which includes 37 five-star hotels and 83 four-star hotels, according to BMBT figures. The current number of available beds is 570,000.
Among the expected more than 1.5 million visitors, 50,000 will come with organizations sponsoring the Olympics, their accommodation will be provided by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad at four and five-star hotels.
This means most other visitors will have to stay at less luxurious hotels.
"Generally speaking, many of Beijing's hotels meet international service standards, but that is not enough," said Xiong. "The most urgent thing right now is to improve service quality in all hotels, especially the city's inns, to meet visitors' demands. That is what we are actively and carefully working on."
The BMBT has set up an Olympics Visitor Accommodation Arrangement Team to study service in Beijing's low-end hotels and inns. The team will release service guidelines for the hotels to enhance service quality.
"By the end of October, we will grant certificates to 300 hotels, and by 2008, we will have certified around 1,000," predicted Xiong.
The bureau has published several books listing details on services in the hospitality sector during the Olympics, and has distributed them to the hotels and inns for use as training programmes.