Beijing hotels unconcerned by room glut
24 July, 2008:BEIJING - When the Olympics start next month, Beijing will have more than 50 five-star hotels open for business, up from fewer than 20 just five years ago.
More than 30 hotels still under construction, including at least 13 five stars, will soon provide more capacity.
According to the Wall Street Journal InterContinental Hotels Group and Marriott International, which operates two Ritz-Carlton hotels in Beijing, are among the multinational hotel companies with the biggest stake in Beijing.
IHG has 13 hotels in the city, including two that have yet to open, and Marriott has 10, five of which opened in the past seven months.
That compares with seven IHG hotels and 12 Marriotts in New York City, a more mature hotel market, notes WSJ.
The worries about a possible glut have grown in recent weeks.
Many of Beijing´s newest hotel rooms are sitting empty following the government´s tightening of visa restrictions as part of public-safety measures tied to the Olympics.
Even during the Games, occupancy rates may not be as high as originally predicted. The tourism bureau says that more than three-quarters of Beijing´s five-star hotels are booked for the Olympics, but at four stars, less than half the rooms are reserved.
In fact, the Olympics appear to be doing little to boost Beijing tourism. The tourism bureau´s current estimate of 400,000 to 450,000 foreign visitors for the Games next month is pretty close to the 420,000 inbound tourists Beijing received last August when the Games weren´t a lure.
The hotel companies say that vacant rooms don´t worry them. "While we are looking forward to the near-term exposure around the Olympic Games, we always plan for the long term, and that´s why we´re expanding so quickly in China,” a Marriott spokesman told the WSJ.
IHG said that the company was also expanding with the future in mind. "In the longer term, we believe that China´s hotel industry will continue to do well," a spokeswoman said.