The southern Chinese city of Zhuhai has announced a tender process for what will be one of the largest hotel and exhibition centres near the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, as it bets on an increase in business travel in the Greater Bay Area. The city’s government announced on Thursday that a tender for a 226,000 square metre plot of land to the north of Zhuhai port will open on October 9, and it will be auctioned off on October 18. Its price starts at 5.64 billion yuan (US$793 million), or 5,828 yuan per square metre. The plot is the largest allocated for hotels and exhibition purposes in Zhuhai in recent years, following the establishment of the Greater Bay Area , said Vincent Cheung, managing director of Vincorn Consulting and Appraisal. The Greater Bay Area refers to a plan by Beijing to link the cities of Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing into an integrated economic and business hub. “If the parcel of land is sold, it will set a benchmark for the property market, as well as a benchmark for land [earmarked] for tourism in the Greater Bay Area as a whole. But this will depend on the level of response to the tender,” Cheung said. He said the plot’s expensive pricing was mostly down to its proximity to other developments in the Greater Bay Area, and that the Zhuhai government was betting on an increase in the number of business travellers in the region. “Zhuhai wants to become a leader in tourism in the Greater Bay Area,” he said. “Zhuhai was already in the business tourism industry long before Macau showed up. But the rise of Macau’s casinos has led to a decline in customers coming to Zhuhai. Now that Macau’s hotels are becoming more expensive, many tourists will want to choose Zhuhai instead,” Cheung said. The successful bidder must sign a letter of intent with at least one global resort brand – such as an Intercontinental or a Ritz-Carlton – identified by the Xiangzhou district government, among more than 10 conditions. The bidder must also bring in at least 20 foreign companies within three years, and build at least two hotel projects within a designated 160,000 square metre area. The project might be challenging as it requires companies with considerable ability in development and operating, said Zhang Hongwei, research director at consultancy Tospur. “Particularly, when the capital chain is so tight now, it may not be appropriate to set aside so much capital,” Zhang said. He said the plot might attract foreign developers, including some from Hong Kong and others backed by funds to work on projects with long-term investment, and companies focused on hotels or having a commercial segment, such as China Vanke and China Resources Land. Hong Kong developers that have been actively taking part in land tenders in mainland China may be interested as well, according to Vincorn’s Cheung. “New World Development and Sun Hung Kai Properties have been more active in mainland China. These two also have their own hotel brands. For example, New World Development owns Rosewood, so it may be easier for them to participate,” he said. “There may be a greater likelihood for developers to group together to bid for the land,” Cheung added. Additional reporting by Lam Ka-sing.