All are welcome: China tells hotels not to turn away foreign guests

As we near the end of May, many users online picked up on a recent joint statement from the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Commerce and National Immigration Administration in response to foreign travellers’ complaints on the government’s website about being turned away by accommodations, as hotels claim they don’t have the “qualifications” to accommodate foreign nationals or don’t know what the proper processes are for the paperwork. The statement forbids hotels to refuse foreign guests on the basis of the lack of qualifications to host them or being unsure about the paperwork.

The regulations regarding “qualifications” were first introduced in 1988 and required star hotels to apply for a qualification to admit foreign nationals. Since the turn of the century, different regions such as Beijing, Shanghai and other tourist destinations have been simplifying or scrapping the requirements. However, many regions still require hotels to be qualified by the local police before welcoming foreign guests. And when they check in, hotels also need to register with the police and complete certain paperwork.

In fact, some journalists contacted hotels about what the process will be now the central government agencies have barred them from turning away guests on the basis of lack of qualifications and uncertainties around paperwork. In fact, some local police services still insist foreign guests stay in approved accommodations and that hotels without qualifications face suspension if they admit foreigners without approval or due process. However, a hotel in Yunnan shared that they have been accepting foreign guests since the new governmental statement without trouble from the local police. It would seem that police around the country are acting at their own discretion before receiving further instructions from the authorities about the logistics.

The new statement came in as China welcomed foreign visitors with visa waivers and simplified payment processes for foreign cards. With weekly flights returning to 73.1% of pre-pandemic levels, the number of foreign visitors to cities such as Shanghai and Beijing has grown over 200% in the first 4 months of the year. The national authorities are further facilitating inbound travel and visits with their latest directory; however, there still needs to be clarification from the local authorities on how to implement it.


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