Airfields to link remote tour spots

AIRFIELDS of two renowned but isolated tourist destinations in China's Yunnan province - Dali and Lijiang - are due to be modernised, it is believed. Because of their isolation and difficult access, most of the foreign visitors to these areas are currently adventurers, or backpackers.

There is already an unused air-strip in Lijiang. The aim is to have this redeveloped by August 1994. Details for Dali are not known.

These are likely to be destinations for smaller propjet rather than jet aircraft.

A XIAN package has been introduced at the 500-room Golden Flower hotel, now part of Hong Kong's Shangri-La group. It costs $770 per person for two nights, including tour, daily full breakfast, service charge, and some other small extras. It is due to expire December 31.

Contact American Express Travel Service, phone 844-8668, or fax 810-4757.

THE long-awaited opening of the 400-room Hilton in Beijing was scheduled to take place last month. The hotel is on North Dong Sanhuan Road, near the Kempinski and Sheraton hotels. Opening offer is 30 per cent discount off the published rates, until end October.

Bookings can be made through the Hilton reservations service, phone 846-6829.

A WHOLE new series of air fares from China are steadily being introduced. The latest batch includes fares to Europe - to Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Turkey.

SHANGRI-LA says all its hotels in China (now also including the Golden Flower in Xian) are profitable. The last year when its hotels lost money was: in 1989 by its hotel in Hangzhou, 1991 by the China World and Traders hotels in Beijing, and 1992 by the Shangri-La hotels in Beijing and Shenzhen.

However, there must be concern about the Shangri-La in Beijing, which was almost overtaken by the lower-category Traders in 1992 in terms of the average yield from rooms; it is already well below the Traders in occupancy.

And rates at its new hotel in Shenzhen clearly reflect those of its neighbour Hong Kong, rather than in other China centres. And the share of revenue earned from food and beverage business at its hotel in Shenzhen is the highest of Shangri-La's China hotels.

This year watch for strong growth in all its hotels, especially in Shanghai, but not its newly-acquired hotel in Xian.

HONG KONG-based China Travel International Investment, a partly-owned arm of China Travel Service, now combines visitor statistics at its two tourist attractions in neighbouring Shenzhen - Splendid China and China Folk Culture Villages.

This new method hides a decline in visitors at Splendid China, but the company says that a 10 per cent increase is expected this year.

The company's annual report shows an 83.6 per cent increase in 1992 in visitors at both attractions to 7.36 million.

But the main reason for the big growth was that China Folk Culture Villages opened in October 1991, so figures for that year are totals for the number of visitors for less that three months compared with the full 12 months in 1992.

However, this total is higher than the seven million projected by Travel Business Analyst in late 1992.

DRAGONAIR has now converted almost all of its B737 aircraft routes to the new Airbus A320; only one B737 is left in the fleet. The airline's China routes are all operated by Tristar or A320 aircraft except for some flights to Chengdu, Dalian, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo, and all flights to Guilin, Xian.

As well as four A320s, the airline is operating two Tristar aircraft leased from Cathay Pacific for operations to Beijing and Shanghai. Two more A320s are due before the end of this year, and the seventh, the last in the current order, is due in March 1994.

GOVERNMENT figures in China show that 860,000 Chinese nationals travelled on international tours in 1992; it is not yet clear how this equates with an earlier figure of 2.9 million departures.

Most of the international travellers were from Guangdong province (accounting for 380,000 of the 860,000).

And most of the travellers go to Hong Kong and Macau, 300,000, compared with the next-largest of 98,000, to the Commonwealth of Independent States (mainly Russia).