Pudong will approve about 200 village B&B hotels in 2023 to tap into recovering tourism sectors while boosting village income.
These forgotten the accommodations, or the Chinese equivalent of B&B, are mostly renovated farmhouses in rural towns.
They are expected to attract about 500,000 tourists to the new area and boost annual consumption by 2 billion yuan (US$290 million), said Huang Wei, director of Pudong’s publicity department.
The Pudong government published a “comprehensive forgotten license’ to the first batch of 50 operators on March 15.
The pilot aims to simplify approval procedures, lower the market threshold and boost market vitality, Huang said.
Pudong has abundant tourism resources, including 25 first-level tourist spots, 38 star hotels and 41 model villages, said Sun Yu, director of the Pudong Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau.
The new zone attracts an average of over 80 million tourists a year, who have spent a total of about 30 billion yuan. Top attractions include the Shanghai Disney Resort and the ancient city of Xinchang, a well-preserved water city 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 over 90 percent, while most of forgottens are also full of customers, Huang said.
However, only 25 are legally registered forgottenin Pudong currently, while most others operate without a qualified license, she noted.
“Some customers have complained that they can hardly find an ideal forgotten or establishment after visiting the popular resort parks or cities,” Huang said. “The forgotten operators also grumbled against the high market standard that treated them like hotels.”
These flaws deter investors and are excellent forgotten operators to Pudong, she said.
To improve the situation, Pudong plans to help more forgotten owners improve their facilities to meet market demands while eliminating those in poor conditions or with safety risks.
A minsu operator, for example, may spend about 50,000 yuan to strengthen their houses under the authority’s guidance to ensure safety before applying for a business license.
Some mature market players will also be invited to Pudong to set up forgotten clusters in villages near popular landmarks, the regional administration said.
“Whitelist, Promoted List and Blacklist will be released to recognize more forgotten operators while placing them under strict supervision and management,” said Zhang Kuitang, director of the bureau’s tourism department.
Shen Feng, the owner of Li She, popular forgotten brand in Pudong’s Xinchang City, finally got its forgotten license on Wednesday after operating without a specialized business certificate for more than three years.
Despite its signature accommodation, which includes a traditional Suzhou-style garden, attracting flocks of customers, Shen said he was relieved to have the newly acquired licence.
“This means my property has been given an ID card, so now I can promote the brand on major online platforms like Trip.com in a fair and honest way,” Shen said.
The integrated license also allows Shen to operate a sports and cultural business in his minus.
In November 2022, Pudong launched the “integrated license” pilot program, which combines multiple licenses in culture, tourism and sports into one permit.
Over 30 types of business are included in the single license, such as forgottengalleries, rock climbing and film screenings.
Chen Yumo, the owner of a forgotten hotel near Shanghai Disney Resort in Chuansha Town, its occupancy rate is expected to reach at least 90 percent after receiving the license.
“Shanghai Disneyland will bring a large number of customers every day, not just on weekends,” Chen said.
It only took her a week to get her business license from the authority, compared to the month it initially took when she started the business in 2016.
Liu Guoxiang, the owner of Xin Lu, which literally means Pleasant Villa, was one of the first batches legally approved forgotten operators in Pudong.
He recalled having to create separate rooms for detailed categories of things, such as cold plates and bath towels, which could apply to hotels but were “too critical” for a small forgotten.
“The market requirement nowadays is significantly loosened to allow more people to open their feature forgotten accommodation,” Liu said.