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Hotels in China to be reevaluated

A new hotel classification system goes into effect on July 1, according to the China National Tourism Administration…

A new hotel classification system goes into effect on July 1, according to the China National Tourism Administration(CNTA).

The new system will end the permanently assigned star ratings of the past. All facilities that were given ratings before December 31, 1998, must undergo review.

In Beijing, more than 200 hotels received their stars before that date, some one-third of the rated hotels in the capital. There are about 8,800 star-rated hotels throughout the mainland.

The hotels that were evaluated on or after January 1, 1999, need only to change their official description from Designated hotel for overseas travelers to Tourist hotel.

For half a century, travelers from abroad were required to stay in designated hotels or apartments when they traveled or worked on the mainland. Last October, Beijing lifted the lodging restrictions on foreigners in its eight urban districts.

New criteria for ratings lower facilities requirements for medium- to low-grade hotels, but raise standards for better hotels in terms of facilities, management and service.

A new top grade is being introduced: platinum five-star. Standards are considerably higher than for the existing five-star super luxury hotels.

Platinum five-star hotels must have operated for two years with five-star ratings. They must also be conveniently located in the central business district, and both exteriors and interiors must be appropriately designed and decorated to suit the local history, culture and natural environment. Chambermaid services must be available 24 hours a day, and room appointments must be spacious and luxurious.

A Western restaurant meeting international standards and serving formal dinners is recommended, as well as an independent, closed bar. Banquet halls capable of seating 500 should be available.

There are presently 28 five-star hotels in Beijing that have been operating for more than two years.

A total of 11 old CNTA regulations are being abolished under the new Administrative License Law that comes into effect on July 1.

All shops, restaurants and entertainment venues must remove signs formerly issued by the tourism authority that labeled them, Designated tourists reception. This move is intended to provide a fair environment for free market competition in the tourism industry.

Requirements for appointment as travel agency manager will also be canceled.