China’s Omicron outbreak sees coronavirus-hit hotels offer studycations to students
- China is grappling with its most severe Omicron variant outbreak, and some of its major economic powerhouses have been forced into partial lockdown
- China’s service sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus, partially due to the absence of international travellers over the last two years
Hotels in China’s coronavirus-hit service sector have come up with a new inventive way of filling empty rooms by offering so-called studycations for students who have been forced to end face-to-face classes amid the ongoing Omicron outbreak.
Schools have again been forced to close and companies have asked their employees to work from home amid the latest Omicron outbreak and hotels in major Chinese cities are seeking new ways to make up for lost revenue after total tourism spending last year reached only half the level seen in 2019.
In Shanghai, where children have returned home from schools and frequent neighbourhood lockdowns have been implemented since last week, the Mandarin Oriental in the Pudong district is offering a week-long studycation package priced at 5,900 yuan (US$928) per person.
The package, aimed at students aged between seven and 16, includes four nights’ stay with three meals per day, and “daily supervision from the hotel designated butler,” according to a flyer printed in both Chinese and English.
“Book a distraction-free space for your kids,” added the flyer, which has been circulating online since Wednesday.
“Make your kids’ online schooling more carefree and fun at Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai!”
As of Thursday, the hotel had received several inquiries from parents in Shanghai, although actual bookings have so far remained scarce, according to the hotel’s reception.
“Many parents are interested, but they need to discuss with their children or other family members first,” said a receptionist.
“The package really keeps up with the time. Because now children must stay at home and take online classes, and their parents may have to work at home too.”
In Nanjing, the capital city of the eastern Jiangsu province, multiple hotels have also been promoting the same services since Wednesday, when the city with 9.3 million residents suspended face-to-face teaching.
The Purple Palace hotel in Nanjing includes free golf classes in its studycation package, which is priced at 390 yuan per day, or 650 yuan for an overnight stay.
“A lot of parents are inquiring. This morning we already have some guests checked in,” a hotel employee surnamed Zeng said.
Nanjing Grand Hotel, a five-star hotel located in the city centre, also offers similar packages, with three days on offer for 999 yuan.
“We also have kids, we know the feeling when children are left home taking online classes while parents have no time to take care of them because they also need to work,” a hotel manager said.
The government has also doubled down on its so-called dynamic zero-Covid policy, meaning many local authorities have reimposed restrictions on interprovincial travel.
Tourists in China took 3.25 billion trips last year, up 12.8 per cent from 2020, but only 54 per cent of the level seen in 2019, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Total tourism spending also rose by 31 per cent last year from 2020 to 2.92 trillion yuan (US$459 billion), but this was again only half of the level seen in 2019.