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Golden weeks ahead for hotels

07-29-2010 08:36 BJT

Record numbers of travelers to China are finding there's no problem finding a bed for the night as new hotels open up all over the country.

The surge in demand is primarily being met in second- and third-tier cities, which are increasingly becoming magnets for domestic and international visitors.

Meanwhile, the World Tourism Organization predicts China will become the world's most popular tourist destination by 2020 and it is expected the next 10 years will be a "golden decade" of expansion for the industry.

Liu Erh-fei, managing director and chairman of Merrill Lynch in the China region, regularly travels around China and said he has noticed that international hotel chains have expanded aggressively.

Liu said it is no longer just the major cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, that have a range of hotels to choose from as major groups like Starwood Hotels have opened up branches in secondary cities.

"Now, wherever I travel, I can find a hotel I am familiar with," Liu said.

The German hotel group Kempinski, for example, is opening hotels in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui autonomous region, Huizhou in Guangdong province and Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province this year; while Hyatt Hotels is establishing itself in Wuxi and Xuzhou in Jiangsu province. Marriott has signed deals for seven new hotels, including Dalian in Liaoning province, Zhuhai in Guangdong, Fuzhou in Fujian and Kunshan in Jiangsu.

National Tourism Industry Association figures show that in 2008 there were record revenues from inbound tourism. But while second-tier cities like those in Heilongjiang, Shanxi and Anhui grew by 30 percent, first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai saw relatively meager growth - indicating they are more mature markets.

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