by Shi Jing
BEIJING, July 7 (Xinhaunet) -- Efforts have been stepped up to boost the number of home-stay visitors after it was found that very few tourists had utilized the unique scheme since the Expo 2010 Shanghai kicked off on May 1.
To attract visitors, a three-day Expo home-stay experience program was launched last Thursday, when the first group of tourists took advantage of the scheme and began staying with families in Shanghai's Xuhui district.
The Expo home-stay families program is a citywide scheme that combines accommodation, catering and cultural communication, while introducing visitors to a different side of Shanghai and the Expo.
Similar to the Olympic home-stay program, all the 187 authorized Expo home-stay families have received training in language skills and international protocols.
The three-day home-stay experience program, which will continue until the end of the Expo, costs 640 yuan ($95) per person and includes two nights accommodation with a local family, two breakfasts and two dinners, tickets to the Shanghai Museum of Arts and Crafts and to the former residence of Soong Ching-ling, and a day-long bike trip with a Chinese tour guide thrown in.
So far, the majority of people who have expressed interest in the Expo home-stay experience program have been families.
The hosting families cannot receive direct bookings. All the arrangements are made by the municipal tourism administration.
"We have not hosted any guests in our house so far. We mostly receive foreign visitors for interviews, which are arranged by the community committee," said Cheng Shuchu, head of his Expo home-stay community.
"None of the 46 Expo home-stay families in our Linfen community have received guests yet," he added.
Of the 187 host families in Shanghai, only those in Xuhui district have received visitors.
"Although the home-stay option was launched two months ago, only 10 visitors have stayed with the families so far," said an official, surnamed Zhou, from the market promotion department of the Xuhui Tourism Administration.
The Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration and Ctrip, a leading online travel agency in China, have been heavily promoting the home-stay option to Expo visitors, she said.