Guangzhou officials said yesterday the city was ready to triple the number of its five-star hotels to cope with a boom in foreign tourist arrivals in the next few years, especially for the 2010 Asian Games. Sun Lei, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation of Guangzhou, said in an industry conference that there would be another 10 to 15 five-star hotels by the end of 2010, or three times more than there were now. Only seven five-star hotels had opened in Guangzhou in the past 25 years, far less than in Beijing, Shanghai or even Dongguan, Mr Sun said. 'We forecast that there will be a sharp rise in demand in 2010,' he said. 'The increase in the number of five-star hotels in Guangzhou is reasonable.' The occupancy rate of local hotels had risen from 60 per cent to nearly 64 per cent in the past six years, said an official of the Guangzhou Tourism Administration who asked to be identified only as Liang. Guangzhou attracted 99.59 million tourists last year, an increase of 5.97 per cent from last year, according to tourism administration figures. For the first time, foreign tourists exceeded two million, an increase of 17.48 per cent. The average increase in foreign tourists was 10 per cent, Mr Liang said. 'You can see that the increase last year was great and we believe it was caused by more overseas promotions and the visit of the Swedish trading ship Gotheborg,' he said. The flourishing exhibition industry would also support the growth of the hotel industry, he said. 'Of course, competition is going to be extremely fierce,' said Mr Liang. 'But we believe all these world-famous hotels have done meticulous analysis before their prudent investment.'