Finally! Guangzhou to get 72-hour visa-free stays… at the end of the year

Posted: 02/21/2013 9:30 am

If you have friends and family who want to visit, this is good news.

Guangzhou is set to introduce 72-hour visa-free stays at Baiyun Airport for inbound visitors by the end of the year in a bid to spur on the province’s weak tourism market.  It follows Shanghai and Beijing, both of which also implemented 72-hour visa-free stays.

A special conference was held to look at ways to address Guangdong’s lack of tourism appeal, where the visa policy change was announced. The move will give Guangdong a chance to showcase it’s tourism credentials.

Beijing and Shanghai introduced their waiver at the start of this year, encouraging hassle-free short-stays for travellers in 45 countries, leaving the south of the country isolated.

Arics Lam, the General Manager of The China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel told TheNanfang.com last year that more could be done to promote Guangdong to overseas visitors:

Arics is one of many general managers in discussions with the Guangzhou Tourism Bureau on how hotels can work together to help promote the city. “We’re suggesting repositioning Guangzhou. Going into the international market is important. How we can propose to government bodies how we can form something to promote the city.”

With warning signs down the road, at least in Guangzhou, hoteliers hope to work more closely with the tourism bureau to drum up business. Bosses are also hoping for more trade fairs and exhibitions to soak up supply. Horwath Asia Pacific notes the bi-annual Canton Fair can result in 40 per cent of total annual revenue for major brands.

Here’s some data from the tourism authority cited in WCARN:

According to the data provided by Tourism Administration of Guangdong Province, the number of inbound overnight visitors increased 4.74% in 2012 by comparing to 2011, while the number of inbound visitors through ports was 107.95 million, down 2.6% by comparing to 2011.

Authorities will, at last, be able to address the imbalance between business and leisure travellers.

Guangdong has not been immune from the global financial crisis and in recent years some southern cities have taken a bigger hit with the lion’s share of business travellers scaling back spending.

Images: Taiyofj/Flickr


Guangzhou’s hotel industry is sailing along, but there may be rough seas ahead

Posted: 10/18/2012 11:01 pm

Beijing and Shanghai look with envy at Guangzhou’s luxury hotel market. While China’s top two cities have sluggish occupancy and erratic room rates, the Flower City has been blossoming.

Across the province, manufacturing is an important growth maker meaning when times are good the benefits are felt including in the services sector, like hospitality, and likewise in harder times the trading environment is challenging.

Concerns of slowdown paint a gloomier picture, based on some data, leaving Guangzhou treading carefully.

As the Canton Fair gets ready for business, China’s flagship trade fair – central to Guangzhou’s economic story – is hoping for brisk business despite the outlook. The city’s hotel industry thrives on it, benefiting from the extra hotel occupancy and room rates swelling. By the time the trade fair wraps up, some 200,000 people will have been and gone.

From a Hilton and Ritz-Carlton to a Westin and Shangri-la, big names vie for corporate accounts and business bookings. The good news for them is the premium-room market is on the cusp of its next big upgrade. But throw in a Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Jumeirah and another Marriott hotel into the mix – all of which just opened or will open soon – and only the fittest will survive, according to one hotel boss.

According to the latest data seen by The Nanfang, Guangzhou’s optimistic picture is in stark contrast to hoteliers in rival cities fighting for more room nights and customers in a market that’s oversaturated. Despite the slowdown, tens of thousands of more rooms are being added every year across the country.

Past, present and future
By the end of 2012, Guangzhou will add another 3,627 high end rooms taking supply near the 20,000 mark. However, Shanghai will be flooded by another 5,500 rooms bringing 50,000 room choices to customers. In Beijing only 2,500 rooms will come online taking the total to 34,000 rooms, according to hospitality consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.

The 2010 Asian Games is a good example of how a big event can boost hotel statistics. It helped operators in Guangzhou recover as the 2009 financial crisis struck. Occupancy rates jumped 10 per cent over the Games year.

While Guangzhou is holding strong, it was a late bloomer in attracting 5-star hotels, with an influx of operators arriving in 2007. Guangzhou is not the “country’s financial centre that Shanghai is or the capital like Beijing,” explains Darlena Zhai from Horwath Asia Pacific.

Horwath Asia Pacific also says over the next five years the “top-tier” market nationwide will add another 30 per cent more rooms. Even so, year-on-year demand for luxury hotels is outpacing supply, growing 7.9 per cent compared to the supply side’s 7.5 per cent growth. The strong numbers have reached near all-time occupancy rates as Guangzhou nears the 70 per cent level.

But hoteliers across the nation have reservations about growth and are becoming increasingly concerned about the market a few years out.

General managers The Nanfang spoke with have a hard time predicting what the future may hold. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” says John Burger, formerly the general manger of the Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe.

Economic snapshot
The economic outlook in China and around the world has plenty to keep general managers both excited and awake at night.

Internationally, the global recession continues to linger following the international financial crisis of 2008, and a series of new flash-points  such as territorial disputes with Japan, are impacting places like Guangzhou. Horwath notes that Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia “are the main drivers of international corporate demand.”

Peter Esho, chief market analyst at City Index Asia Pacific, reckons a major turnaround can’t take place without significant interventions.

“[We need] confidence back in Europe, the Chinese policy response…which parts of the economy will be targeted, monetary easing by the People’s Bank of China, more reserve requirement ratio cuts and possibly [base] rate cuts and among the state owned and controlled banks. We need to see the lending flood gates resume once again.”

The Westin Guangzhou’s Carolyn Smith is confident and assured that her hotel is in good shape, which is why she is bullish about her hotel’s prospects. For her, the economic signs are pointing in the right direction. As general manager she is presiding over 72 per cent capacity; higher, she says, than the city and national average.

“The market is growing, China is growing, the business world in China is growing, the middle class is growing,” she says. “China has more than 170 cities with more than one million people. China has tremendous capacity and I think it will be a long time before there is oversupply.” As for Guangzhou, “it can continue to take new hotels and new hotel openings, [but] not all at the same time.”

One risk is Guangdong’s largely manufacturing-heavy economy could take a negative turn as China slows. For now, it is an important driver for the province and the manufacturing index in September showed a contraction.

“In terms of the manufacturing index, it is holding up well. It is a very good example of how the slowdown doesn’t necessarily affect all areas at the same time,” Carolyn adds. “Market forces might dictate but they might not dictate at the right times.”

But Horwath Asia Pacific’s Darlena Zhai warns, “since a lot of corporate demand is from the manufacturing industry and auto industry, it would be strongly affected by economic changes in China.”

John Burger’s is bullish but he pulls no punches. He thinks there is saturation in the market, and the casualty will be those smaller, local hotels that have not spent money on their infrastructure.

While the Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe started from “a zero base,” Burger isn’t too concerned. “A new hotel has got a growing phase like a child. You have got to mumble and talk before you can shout; before you run you have to walk.”

But he concedes as an indicator of performance “when you look at the occupancy rates, some places are doing better than others” although he is not “unhappy” with how his establishment is doing. He is projecting growth this year and next year.

The Hilton’s high-end global reputation strikes the right note with the cash-rich Chinese traveller – which makes up 70 per cent of business at the Hilton Tianhe. “The Chinese consumer is more brand aware than they were in the past. As long as the Chinese traveller is fueling the international brands then that’s ok.”

“You name it, we have it in Guangzhou,” says Arics Lam, general manager of the China Hotel, a Marriott Hotel, but cautions “none of us can see what is going to happen to us in a few years time.”

Nevertheless, the China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel is outperforming its peers by operating at 72 per cent occupancy. However, Arics says the city needs more tourists. That is more of a concern rather than the macro-economic picture.

For the time being, Arics is one of many general managers in discussions with the Guangzhou Tourism Bureau on how hotels can work together to help promote the city. “We’re suggesting repositioning Guangzhou. Going into the international market is important. How we can propose to government bodies how we can form something to promote the city.”

With warning signs down the road, at least in Guangzhou, hoteliers hope to work more closely with the tourism bureau to drum up business. Bosses are also hoping for more trade fairs and exhibitions to soak up supply. Horwath Asia Pacific notes the bi-annual Canton Fair can result in 40 per cent of total annual revenue for major brands.

The future
Local statistics favour Guangzhou but national statistics do not look good.

With money pouring into public transport infrastructure, Horwath Asia Pacific warns of an increase in day-tripping from more popular cities like Hong Kong.  ”Transport infrastructure in Guangzhou and its improved accessibility from other surrounding cities is likely to increase the city’s appeal.”

At least in the key areas where Guangzhou is successful – manufacturing, trade and hosting exhibitions – business is ticking over for the time being.


Expat jobs fair coming soon to Guangzhou

Posted: 04/16/2012 6:39 pm

Looking for a fresh start and need ideas for a new job?

On April 21, for one day only, Chinajob, the Job Fair for Foreigners, at the China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel, is the place to head to for new opportunities. And it’s free, too.

It’s in town soon and to go, all you need to is register online to confirm your place at: Jobfair.chinajob.com.

More details can be found on the website here.

Alternatively, contact:
Grace Zhang or Iris Liang
Telephone No.: +86-10-68948899 ext.50307 or +86-10-68948899 ext.50303

Samuel Zhou (Guangzhou Foreign Experts Bureau)
Telephone No.: +86-20-83126157; Fax: +86-20-83126137

The 2012 Job Fair for Foreigners in Guangzhou
Time: 9:00-16:00 on Saturday, April 21
122 Liuhua Road (Liuhua Lu) Yuexiu district, Guangzhou
Crystal Ball Room, 2/F, the China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel


Lights out across the Pearl River Delta

Posted: 03/30/2012 2:42 pm

Earth Hour is almost upon us again – returning off the back of staging its most successful global blackout event last year.

The four-year-old annual campaign supported in the PRD and organised by the Chinese arm of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), will lead some of our southern cities into darkness for one hour on Saturday evening between 8:30-9:30pm.

Last March, 84 cities and 7,600 businesses across the mainland participated in the worldwide switch-off.

With the rising cost of fuel at the pumps and the ever growing demand for energy from the world’s biggest consumer, right here in China, will this message make more of an impact with households and ordinary citizens?

Hoteliers in Guangzhou – those who make for imposing buildings around the city and on the skyline with a dazzling array of lights – will flick a few switches tomorrow and some going further, marking the occasion with a special event.

From the heart of the city centre in Tianhe District, the Westin Guangzhou will host a “Green” forum – exchanging views and ideas on being eco-friendly – joined by special guests and the public all the way up from the hotel’s highest restaurant – overlooking parts of the city centre where they can see who else has joined in.

The China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel, in Yuexiu District, is going poolside for Earth Hour as guests will be treated to a candlelit cocktail reception, and will use the area as an educational platform to share “green tips”. The hotel will switch off all non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour in back-of-the-house areas, public areas and hotel exteriors.

Across in Taojin, The Garden Hotel will pull the plug on their lights outside and switch-off non-essential lights in public, restaurants and back-of-the-house areas.

And in Hong Kong, the bright lights from skyscrapers beaming across Victoria Harbour will go dark.

Around the PRD, we can all do our bit and get involved. As for the message on Saturday: “Go beyond the hour. We can. We will. Will you?” Don’t forget to turn off your lights.


Valentine’s Day is only a week away, do you have plans yet?

Posted: 02/7/2012 11:21 am

February is known as the month of love in China, largely because it contains both the traditional western day of love (Valentine’s Day) as well as the “lover’s day” in China, which falls on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year.

The Chinese-celebrated day is already behind us, leaving the big kahuna coming up next week: St. Valentine’s Day.  If you haven’t made plans yet to serenade your loved one in the PRD, the China Hotel (A Marriott Hotel!) in Guangzhou has passed us a few ideas to share with you.  All of the below are specials are for February 14 only.

Valentine's Day at Prime Steakhouse

Prime Steakhouse (8666 6888 ext 3468)

Prime Steakhouse Set Menu for Two

Treat that special someone in your life to a decadent 5-course candle light set dinner for two at Guangzhou’s finest steakhouse. Let the romantic candle lit ambiance set the mood with an evening filled with delectable delicacies, romantic sparkling welcome drink, and a truly unique take away gift for all ladies.

RMB 999 +15% for set dinner for two.

Four Seasons (8666 6888 ext 3123)  

Four Seasons Set Menu for Two

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Four Seasons, with the epitome of classic Cantonese cuisine. A specially chosen romantic set dinner for two awaits you and your lover on this special evening, including roses and a unique take away gift for all ladies.

RMB 688+15% for set dinner for two.

Café Veranda (8666 6888 ext 3248)

Romantic Dinner Buffet

Red is the international color of love and this year, love is in the air at Café Veranda. Our buffet will be transformed into an all red buffet complete with red candle light, romantic dishes and a lovely red welcome drink for all guests.

RMB 298 +15% per person for dinner buffet.


If you have an event or special to tell us about for Valentine’s Day, send it to admin(at)thenanfang(dot)com.


Get your beer on! Oktoberfest kicks off tonight in Guangzhou

Posted: 09/23/2011 5:48 pm

The taps are open and the brews are being poured (and likely spilled) at the Jinhan Exhibition Centre in Guangzhou. Oktoberfest is upon us once again, and that means beer, live music, beer, drunken laowai, beer, sausages, and more beer.

Honestly, it’s an event not to be missed, especially as it includes a vast German-style buffet and all the beer you can drink. The Nanfang will be out and about at Oktoberfest tomorrow night, so if you see a bloke with a camera around his neck and a beer in each hand, come by and say hello.

Oktoberfest runs from today (September 23) to next Wednesday, the 28th. You can get more details here.


Don’t get caught without a plan! Some last minute Valentine’s Day ideas

Posted: 02/13/2011 1:44 pm

It’s a day of either love or dread, depending on our own individual situation. And while those singletons among us might feel dread at not having a date, the feeling is magnified if you *do* have a date, but haven’t yet made plans (and if that’s you, you’re cutting it awfully close). For some last minute ideas, we’ve thrown together a list of some of the best special dinners and events in the PRD for Valentine’s Day. You can see a full listing in our Events section.


  • The Q Hotel has a Valentine’s Dinner for 2 for RMB 398/couple. They also have a special if you want to spend a night in the hotel. (Details)
  • The Hyatt Regency has a couple of options: A buffet dinner for RMB 368/person, which includes a glass of sparkling wine and roses for the ladies, or a five-course dinner for RMB 1288. (Details)
  • Angus Too has a dinner for RMB 778 per couple including a rose, gift (no details, sadly), champagne and photo. (Details)
  • Steak + has an RMB 288 set dinner, but also takes on a 10% service charge. (Details)


  • Shangri-La Futian has all kinds of things going on for the Hallmark Holiday, and you can find out what it is here.
  • Ditto for the Ritz-Carleton Shenzhen. (Details)
  • The Terrace in Shekou has a set dinner for two for RMB 298. (Details)
  • Prego has a special Valentine’s Day menu, but hasn’t tipped its hand yet on what’s on it, or the price. (Details)
  • Zentro and Blue at the Crown Plaza Shenzhen both have Valentine’s Day specials. (Details)
  • Mezzo at the Sheraton Shenzhen Hotel promises a romantic evening with a four-course set dinner for RMB 998/person plus service charge. (Details)


  • The China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel has Valentine’s Day specials “starting from” RMB 2520, which includes a night’s stay. (Details)
  • The Westin Hotel has romantic specials planned at two of its restaurants. (Details)
  • Milan 1898 has a Valentine’s Day dinner for two for RMB 898. Details, including the full menu, are here.