In a new Chinese government program, 600 Beijing families have been chosen as hosts to the forthcoming swarm of foreign tourists, ready to hit the city for the nearby Olympics. The reason for this is to provide some more housing, as hotels and motels grow ever busier, and to provide a different perspective and view upon the Chinese way of life, and what better way in doing so then by leaving for a few days with a genuine Beijing family. Cultural exchange between tourists and Chinese residents is encouraged. Here’s just a statement from one of the program appliers:
“I didn’t decorate the rooms to look like hotel rooms, but I did paint the walls and cleaned them up. I want my guests to both feel at home and taste real Beijing life.”
An estimate of 2.5 million visitors will attend the Games, with 500,000 foreigners flooding the capital. However, an issue of great importance is not the lack of housing as many of us would think, but rather the over vacancy. As of Tuesday, less than half of Beijing’s hotels with four-star ratings or lower were booked through the Games. Five-star hotels fared somewhat better in occupancy rate, with rooms reserved primarily by Olympic officials and delegations. This leaves the Chinese families, ready to welcome the foreign visitors, in a big predicament and a lot of empty rooms. The main reason behind this is probably caused by China’s increased VISA restrictions. Talk about timing…
At least 1,000 visitors can be provided with rooms under the Homestay program, according to the Beijing Tourism Administration. And families are permitted to charge their guests a modest fee, the recommended rate being about $60-$80 (US) per night.