Up to 500,000 visitors to the capital during the 2008 Olympics will have to find beds in non-star-graded accommodation as the city does not have enough rated hotels and hostels to deal with the expected influx of guests.
Non-star-rated hotels and hostels are generally cheap, but often have low safety and hygiene standards as well.
The Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games said it estimated about 800,000 people would visit the city due to the lure of the Games. At least 250,000 would visit specifically for the Olympics, while another 550,000 regular tourists and businesspeople could be expected to visit in the weeks before, during and after the event.
The number of visitors would peak and trough through the period, an official said, 'but at this early stage, it is very difficult to estimate how high the peaks would be'.
By 2008, Beijing would have about 800 hotels with the internationally recognised star-rating system ranging from one to five stars, officials said yesterday. These hotels would offer about 130,000 rooms, they said, with an expected 300,000 beds.
The shortfall would be made up by the 4,000 hotels, hostels, inns and training centres that are not graded, they said, adding that these establishments would have about 500,000 beds in total.
Non-star-rated accommodation in Beijing generally ranges from less than 10 yuan a night for a bed in a large dormitory, to about 100 yuan a night for a single room. It rarely offers en-suite facilities and is often dilapidated.
Until October 1 last year, it was illegal for foreigners to stay in non-star-rated accommodation on the mainland. While the ban was ostensibly in place to protect national security, officials also said non-rated hotels rarely met foreigners' safety requirements.
Tu Lixin, a manager of a five-star hotel in Beijing, said these non-rated hotels were often dirty and hazardous. 'In terms of hygiene and safety, most of these places will simply not be able to meet the requirements of foreign guests.'
The 10,500 athletes plus 6,000 delegates will stay in the athletes' village, while the media village will cater for 10,000 journalists. The other 8,000 journalists expected to cover the event will be put up in various hotels, officials said.
The organising committee said yesterday it would sign agreements with nearly 80 of the city's top hotels to secure 23,000 rooms for accredited delegates.