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March 17, 2023

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200 countryside B&Bs to boost tourism in Pudong

PUDONG will approve some 200 countryside B&B hotels in 2023 to tap the rebounding tourism sectors, while increasing the village incomes.

These minsu accommodations, or the Chinese equivalent to B&B, are mainly renovated from countryside houses in rural towns.

They’re expected to attract about 500,000 tourists to the new area and boost the annual consumption by 2 billion yuan (US$290 million), said Huang Wei, director of Pudong’s publicity department.

The Pudong government released “comprehensive minsu license” to the first batch of 50 operators on Wednesday.

The pilot practice aims to simplify the approval procedures, lower the market threshold and active the market vitality, said Huang.

Pudong has abundant tourism resources, including 25 A-level tourism spots, 38 starred hotels and 41 model villages, said Sun Yu, director of Pudong’s culture, sports and tourism bureau.

The new area attracts over 80 million tourists annually on average, who spent some 30 billion yuan in total. The top attractions include the Shanghai Disney Resort and the Xinchang ancient town, a well-preserved watertown dating back to the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

Since the Spring Festival this year, the occupancy rate of some resorts and hotels in Pudong has been above 90 percent, while most of the minsus have also been full of customers, said Huang.

However, there are only 25 legally registered minsus in Pudong at present, while most others are operating without a qualified license, she noted.

“Some customers complained they could hardly find an ideal minsu or eatery after visiting the popular resort parks or towns,” Huang said. “The minsu operators also grumbled about the high market standard treating them the same as hotels.”

These drawbacks have been deterring investors and excellent minsu operators to Pudong, she said.

To improve the situation, Pudong plans to help more minsu owners improve their facilities to reach the market requirements, while eliminating those in poor conditions or with safety risks.

A minsu operator, for instance, can spend about 50,000 yuan on reinforcing their houses under the guidance of the authority to ensure safety before applying a business license.

Some mature market players will also be invited to Pudong to create some minsu clusters in the villages near the popular attractions, the district government said.

“A whitelist, encouraged list and blacklist will be released to admit more minsu operators, while putting them under strict supervision and management,” said Zhang Kuitang, director of the tourism department of the bureau.

Shen Feng, the owner of Li She, a popular minsu brand in Pudong’s Xinchang Town, finally received his minsu license on Wednesday after operating without a specialized business certificate for over three years.

Despite his characteristic accommodation, which includes a traditional Suzhou-style garden, attracting flocks of customers, Shen said he felt relieved with the newly acquired license.

“It means my property has gained an ID card, so that I can promote the brand on large online platforms such as in a fair and square manner now,” Shen said.

The integrated license also allows Shen to operate sports and cultural businesses in his minsu.

In November 2022, Pudong launched the “integrated license” pilot program, which combines numerous licenses in culture, tourism and sports into one permit.

Over 30 business types are included in the single license, such as minsu, galleries, rock climbing and movie screenings.

Chen Yumo, the owner of a minsu hotel near the Shanghai Disney Resort in Chuansha Town, expected the occupancy rate of her accommodation would reach at least 90 percent after gaining the license.

“The Shanghai Disneyland would bring a large number of customers every day rather than just weekends,” Chen said.

It took only a week for her to receive the business license from the authority, compared with the month it initially took when she started the business in 2016.

Liu Guoxiang, the owner of Xin Lu, which literally means Pleasant Cottage, was one of the first batch of legally approved minsu operators in Pudong.

He recalled to having to set up separate rooms for detailed categories of things, such as cold dishes and bath towels, which could apply to hotels, but were “overcritical” to a small minsu.

“The market requirement has been largely loosened nowadays to allow more people to open their characteristic minsu accommodations,” Liu said.


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