In 2008 Beijing will host the summer Olympics. Earlier this year Guangzhou hosted the Uber Cup, an international badminton tournament. In 2010, an estimated 70 million tourists will travel to Shanghai to visit the World Expo. Last week about 3,000 overseas Chinese flocked to Guangzhou for the second World Guangdong Community Federation conference. When it comes to attracting international events, Guangzhou clearly has a problem. According to municipal tourism officials and hotel industry executives, Guangzhou's failure to fall into the international spotlight stems from a number of factors including ambition and central government support - or rather, a lack of it. 'There's not much we can do. We're just one government organ,' said an official with Guangzhou's Tourism Bureau. 'To attract international events the whole municipal government has to be actively involved. Shanghai is so much bigger and its leadership more aggressive than ours.' An executive at one of Guangzhou's four five-star hotels added: 'Government direction is very important when it comes to attracting big international events. But the government here doesn't seem that interested.' It says much that while international hotel chains descend on Beijing and Shanghai in anticipation of servicing the crowds for the 2008 Olympics and 2010 World Expo, the last five-star hotel opened in Guangzhou in 1992. Hotels in Guangzhou are almost entirely reliant on business travellers rather than tourists. 'I first came to Guangzhou more than 10 years ago and nothing special has ever happened here,' said another hotel executive. 'Every time there is some big opportunity, Beijing and Shanghai are tigers . . by comparison, poor Guangzhou just looks like it's lost in space.' To be fair, Guangzhou did host China's Ninth National Games last year, which included an Olympic Games-calibre opening in the city's new 80,000-seat stadium. The stadium now sits empty and largely unused in the city's northeast outskirts. But Guangzhou is preparing a bid for the 2010 Asian Games. Central government support is another factor Guangzhou lacks. By contrast, Shanghai's World Expo delegation to Monte Carlo was led by Vice-Premier Li Lanqing, who delivered the city's final presentation in fluent English. 'When it comes to international prestige we're 20 years behind Shanghai,' said the hotel executive. 'We do not have someone really powerful and strong to represent this city, and that's important when it comes to bidding for big international events.'