BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhuanet) -- China is planning to accelerate a mechanism with which to strip poorly run hotels of their star rankings in order to protect the image of all the 15,000 star-rated hotels across the country, a top tourism official said on Monday.
Anonymous customers' opinions will be considered for the first time along with those of industry experts when evaluating a star-rated hotel's qualification, said Du Jiang, deputy head of the National Tourism Administration of China.
The news came days after the announcement that the Hilton Chongqing was to be stripped of its five-star status for reportedly permitting a venue for prostitution to operate on its premises.
The announcement, posted on the administration's website last Friday, said the hotel's actions have "seriously damaged the image of China's star-rated hotels and generated a bad influence".
Dai Bin, deputy head of the China Tourism Academy, told China Daily the incident has partly pushed the administration to strengthen its management of star-rated hotels.
Even more importantly, he added, a means of expelling poorly run hotels from the internationally recognized star classification system has become critical at a time when the number of China's 15,000 star-rated hotels is growing faster than ever before.
In 2009 alone, for instance, the administration gave a five-star status to 63 hotels across the country, pushing the total number of top-level stars up to 432, according to China's tourism development analysis and forecast 2010, a report compiled by the Tourism Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Many new star-rated hotels are competing in terms of advanced hardware and the level of luxury", he said "Through this mechanism, the administration hopes to make them realize the importance of good service and how to better serve customers."
Zhao Huanyan, of the Hotel Solution Consulting Ltd in Shanghai, echoed these thoughts, saying that the pursuit of quality lodging based on the standards of China's hotel star-rating system has led to disappointment among some foreigner visitors.
"They found that China's high-ranking hotels look almost identical - from the lobby to the standard room," he said.
The latest move by the tourism authority, he added, should offer fresh ideas for hotel owners, pushing them to improve service while using innovative techniques.
The hospitality industry is one of China's first few industries that opened up to foreign investment and management concepts.
Since 1982, when the Jianguo Hotel Beijing became the first hotel to introduce international hotel management on the mainland, the world's top 10 hotel groups have entered the Chinese market.
The groups now manage 480 hotels nationwide, Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.