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Beijing hotel booking steadily up, room rate drops a bit

BEIJING-- Hotel booking rates in Beijing have steadily risen with the Olympic Games drawing near, but the room rate has dropped, according to the industry and city tourism authority.

Hotels near the Olympic venues and Olympic-contracted ones have reported very good bookings, an insider working with a leading travel agency told Xinhua on Thursday.

"In average 90 percent of rooms in hotels near the Olympic venues have been booked, even the economy ones," the source said.

The five-star China World Hotel, one of the Shangri-La hotels and an Olympic contracted one, has no rooms left during the Games, according to its reservation desk on Thursday.

"Besides the rooms booked by the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG), other rooms left have also been booked," said one of the hotel public relations personnel. But she refused to give exact numbers of how many are booked by BOCOG and how many by other clients.

Another Olympic contracted and five star hotel, Grand Hyatt Hotel, at the center of city downtown, also reported no rooms left for reservation on Thursday.

Jinjiang Inn, an economy hotel chain, has rooms left during the Games but told Xinhua that quite a few of their rooms have been booked.

There were media reports recently that the stricter visa policy China has carried out since June for security concerns have held foreign tourists back from visiting the country and this has made hotel room supply greatly exceed demand in Beijing.

However, insiders here said no serious effect has been found in the past one and half months.

"At least our business has not been affected recently," said a Grand Hyatt Hotel PR officer. "Partly because we are serving business travelers mainly instead of tourists who come only for the Games."

But the demand is not as hot as the industry expected.

Xiong Yumei, director of the city tourism department, confirmed that half of rooms of hotels under four stars have not been booked during the Games.

Www.ctrip,com, a leading travel booking website, said in a report that hotels between two and four stars in not that popular districts have reduced room rates, which they raised dramatically early this year, by 10 to 20 percent.

In March, the website said that hotel room rate during the Games increased by six to ten times than the previous years.

A survey by the city tourism department said, on average, room rates at five-star hotels continued increasing over the past two months but three-star and four-star ones dropped by 30 to 40 yuan (4.35 to 5.8 U.S. dollars) and two-star ones down by 85 yuan (12.32 dollars).

But the room rate is still three or four times more than the same period last year.

"I do not expect a great up and down of booking and room rate in the next month," Xiong said.

Presently Beijing is offering 339,000 rooms or 665,000 beds for travelers. Among them, 816 hotels with stars are providing 129,000rooms or 227,000 beds. The daily demand during the Games is estimated to be 333,000 beds at most.

The supply is sufficient but hotels with good locations will still be in demand, insiders said.

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