Chinese authorities order hotels not to refuse foreign guests following complaints

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27th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Chinese authorities have issued a directive instructing hotels in China not to reject foreign guests after receiving complaints from travellers from countries like Nigeria and the United Kingdom. The notice, posted on the State Council’s website, stated that hotels were refusing foreign guests, citing reasons such as being unprepared to receive them or lacking knowledge on inputting information into their systems.

In response, several Chinese government bodies stated in the notice, released on May 24, that hotels would no longer be allowed to turn away foreign travellers on such grounds. The Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Commerce, and National Immigration Bureau announced that the China Hotel Association would be guided and supervised to improve its ability to accommodate foreign guests, including enhancing the standards of service staff.

The Ministry of Commerce has instructed the association to launch an initiative to facilitate accommodation services for foreign travellers in China and promote better standards and convenience for foreigners visiting or residing in the country. The plan also involves collaborating with booking platforms to offer English courses, providing free training for check-in procedures, and helping industry workers improve their proficiency in foreign languages.

Additionally, the Ministry of Public Security is deploying its agencies nationwide to assist with the registration process for foreign guests and create a favourable business environment, as stated by the government.

The new policy aims to attract more tourists to China as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. China has already relaxed entry rules for foreigners, extending its short-stay visa-free policy for citizens of 12 countries until the end of 2025. Furthermore, China recently signed mutual visa exemptions with Singapore and Thailand.

According to data from the National Immigration Administration, the number of foreign nationals visiting China in the first quarter of 2024 reached 13.07 million, marking an increase of over 300% compared to the same period in 2023.

Despite these efforts, confusion surrounding whether all hotels in China accept foreign guests remains. Travellers have shared their experiences of being turned away by hotels, with some stating that not all hotels are licensed to host foreign guests. However, according to Hu Xijin, a former top editor at the state-linked Global Times, the distinction between hotels accepting or rejecting foreign guests has been abolished since 2013. Hu stated that all hotels in China can accommodate foreign guests but must follow the registration process outlined by the law.

Under China’s Exit and Entry Administration Law, hotels are required to register the details of their foreign guests with local public security agencies. Foreign travellers not staying in hotels or their hosts must register their accommodation details with local authorities within 24 hours of their arrival. Failure to comply may result in a warning or a fine of 2,000 yuan (approximately US$276). Hotels that do not submit travellers’ accommodation details may receive warnings or fines ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 yuan, depending on the severity of the circumstances.