A building boom remains on the cards in Greater China this year despite a decline in the number of hotel and recreational projects on the drawing boards on the mainland, according to the latest survey of the construction industry by BCI Asia. Filling the breach left by declining hotel projects will be an expected jump in mainland housing starts, while elsewhere transport-related building will lead construction starts, BCI forecasts. In Greater China, all building starts this year measured by floor area are forecast to reach 300 million square metres, says BCI. It will be more than double the space likely to be added by all Southeast Asian countries. 'Scheduled starts are up 21 per cent in Greater China on strong residential demand,' BCI says in its latest quarterly update, which it based on floor area data for 50,000 projects collated by researchers from interviews with developers, project managers, architects, and engineers. On the mainland, there is a major shift in building starts scheduled for this year away from hotels, recreational, and industrial projects towards large residential projects, BCI notes. The trend reflects the growing affluence of the Chinese society, the report says. Construction starts for hotel and recreational facilities on the mainland are set to fall 23 per cent and 16 per cent respectively, it notes, adding: 'This is not surprising given that most facilities for the Beijing Olympics are already close to completion.' On the back of strong demand for homes, residential starts scheduled for the year have increased 44 per cent in terms of square metres over the same period last year. In Hong Kong, scheduled residential starts in large projects for this year are up 91 per cent year on year. However, in the commercial property sector on the mainland, data show no increase this year. Across the region, scheduled starts for all projects are up 45 per cent, driven by demand for transport-related buildings, offices and exhibition space. The fastest-growing sector in the region is transport-related construction, which is up 235 per cent on the back of several government-supported projects in Thailand, Malaysia and on the mainland that are scheduled to get under way this year. Among the start-ups in the transport sector is the construction of stations along the 841km high-speed railway from Guiyang to Guangzhou. Construction of the seven billion yuan line is due to start this quarter and be completed in 2013. In Thailand, the Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Co intends to build nine stations along its BTS SkyTrain Green Route, while the Mass Rapid Transit Authority is planning to set up 35 stations along the extension of its Dark Red Route from Rangsit to Mahachai.