China / Society

Hainan sets price controls on rooms

By ZHENG JINRAN in Beijing and HUANG YIMING in Haikou (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-04 03:31

Strict measures have been announced to curb soaring prices of hotel rooms and buffets when visitors swarm to Hainan, a tropical resort island, during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday.

A document released by the provincial government stipulated that hotels should reduce their price of rooms by at least 10 percent during the holiday, which starts Feb 10, compared with last year's prices.

According to the provincial price authority, the highest daily cost for a standard room, including the extra service fees, should be less than 5,000 yuan ($802). If prices exceed the cap, the hotel needs to get approval from the government.

The room-price ceiling doesn't affect luxury suites and villas.

In addition, the price of buffets should not exceed 400 yuan per person.

Hainan, especially the city of Sanya, attracts thousands of visitors every year who seek the area's warmth and sunshine in chilly winter. But the onslaught of visitors during Spring Festival pushes prices much higher than they normally are.

Huang Rongjian, a tour guide who worked for more than 10 years in Hainan, revealed that most small hotels increase the price by 200 percent at least during the Spring Festival holiday. For example, the price for a room with two beds that costs 150 yuan a day may hit 800 yuan during the holiday.

The higher costs during the holiday keep many visitors away. Du Peng, a resident of Hegang in Heilongjiang province, where the temperature may fall to -30 C in winter, said he will give up his plan for a trip to the tropical island during the holiday if the price reaches 4,000 yuan, which is "unacceptable".

Experts said the Hainan government's move to control prices may not work as well as expected.

"It's the harshest measure in recent years in Hainan," said a deputy secretary-general of the Hainan Tourism Association surnamed Dai who declined to give his full name. "It drives the price down to a lower level instead of the cap price of 8,000 yuan in previous years."

However, the major hotels for visitors are the small ones, where room charges are still below the cap price after they are raised.

"The large demand is the root reason for the soaring prices," Dai said, and suggested that the government needs to guide the flood of visitors to different levels of hotels.

The price of a room with an ocean view at the Sheraton Hotel in Sanya is set at 5,210 yuan for Feb 9, an employee said on Thursday, adding that the price may change and they had not receive any announcement on reducing their price yet.

"We will change our prices in response to the measures. But the demand is still large, so the changes may not be that large," said the publicity official surnamed Zhang at the Sheraton Hotel.

More than 1.35 million visitors came to the island during the Spring Festival holiday in 2012, which bring about 4.3 billion yuan in tourism revenue, a year-on-year increase of 61 percent.

Cao Yin in Beijing and Liu Xiaoli and Tian Yinan in Hai-kou contributed to this story.

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