It’s reported that hotels in Beijing are doing much less business than they’d hoped and expected for the forthcoming Olympics.
The city’s summer season is said to be slow, with hotels and travel agencies saying many would-be tourists have been put off by tight visa regulations, polluted air and less-than-welcoming officialdom. The number of foreign tourists visiting Beijing in May fell by 14 per cent.
China has spent a reported £20 billion ($40 billion) on new infrastructure and Olympic venues and has more than doubled its quota of 4- and 5-star hotels to 160 since Beijing was awarded the Games seven years ago. One report says 5-star hotels are at 77 per cent occupancy for the period of the Games and 4-star hotels at 44 per cent; hoteliers are looking for 90 per cent or above.
Travel business analysts had forecast that the Olympics would bring 500,000 foreign visitors and an extra £2.2 billion ($4.5 billion) in revenue this summer. But now, even though some five-star hotels are fully booked, many economists are beginning to doubt that the city will get the kind of economic windfall it was hoping for.
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by Andy Moreton
With the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games just 40-odd days away, officials in Beijing have announced plans to try to reduce the smog that’s been causing athletes real concern.
One measure to take a million cars off the road will be enforced from July 20th to September 20th, a period that includes the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It will restrict owners of private cars to driving on alternate days, depending on whether the last number of their licence plate is odd or even. Operating hours for public transport will be extended during the two-month period.
Another measure will forbid lorries and other vehicles with high emissions from entering Beijing during this time. They will have to re-route around the city.
A spokesman for the city’s traffic committee said: “We hope to see a bluer sky.”
by Andy Moreton
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China is home to about 350 million smokers, so getting a complete ban on people lighting up in public was always going to be a challenge.
Following the lead of western countries - and with an eye on the Beijing Olympics - the Chinese have announced that, from May 1st, smoking will be outlawed in public places including government offices, sports venues, hospitals, schools and museums.
However, plans to extend this to restaurants, bars and internet cafes have been abandoned after widespread protests from both customers and proprietors. Instead, these venues will have to provide separate smoking and no-smoking areas.
Zhang Peili, the official given the task of implementing the regulations, said it was difficult for the authorities to control smoking in bars. “There is a Chinese saying that tobacco and alcohol always go together. It’s part of the culture.”
There was an early warning of public disquiet last October when a restaurant chain tried to implement a ban. Customers at one branch locked themselves in the dining rooms and refused to let staff enter until they’d finished their cigarettes.
Underpinning the efforts to discourage smoking is a serious health problem. China, which holds 20 per cent of the world’s population, has the highest number of smoking-related deaths worldwide.
A 2001 study in the British Medical Journal found that around 2,000 people were dying every day in China from smoking-related diseases. The researchers estimated that this figure could rise to 8,000 a day by 2050 if the issue wasn’t tackled.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique offers a unique selection of award-winning Beijing hotels