Sometimes you wonder if China will finally make up her mind, flip-flopping over wanting tourists, then keeping them out even if they have got Olympic tickets for security reasons, going even to the extent of driving foreign residents out. But what next for the foreigners who weren’t sent home or for the remaining handful of tourists who thanked their lucky stars for having made it into China? Among other things like worrying over where to get their daily intake of greens, the latest problem seems to be if hotels will take them in.
Shanghaiist reader Ryan Howley told us about his experience getting rejected by hotels in Shanhaiguan and Qinhuangdao:
I went to Shanhaiguan (山海关) with my friend last week and we were hoping to find a hotel when we got there. Turns out, only three hotels in the Shanhaiguan area could accept foreign guests (外宾). This is according to many locals and backed up by several visits to different hotels. We were about to eat the extra cost and stay in one of those three… when they asked for our marriage license (I’m a white male, she’s Chinese). We’d need two rooms to stay…
Qinhuangdao (秦皇岛) nearby was the same. According to the people we talked to, it is in place during the Olympic time period. Some thought it was the whole country, others thought just Olympic cities, but all said it was in effect for Qinhuangdao and the surrounding cities. (Qinhuangdao is hosting some Olympic football games) We were also told the police regularly checked rooms and would shut down a hotel for the rest of the Olympic period if it was found to violate the order.
Funnily enough, we had a similar experience when we were in Yarkand (莎车), Xinjiang last month where no hotels, motels or guesthouses would take us even though we know for a fact that Yarkand is thousands of kilometres away from any of the Olympic venues, all citing government restrictions “for the safety and comfort of foreign guests” .
In Yarkand, only three hotels were licensed to receive foreigners, and coincidentally they also had the highest room rates in town — RMB 100-200+ per night. Maybe not much in Shanghai’s context but definitely a massive dent in the pocket for the budget-conscious backpacker accustomed to RMB 30-50 dorm beds and almost certainly overpriced in sleepy Silk Road towns.
Another hotel in Kuqa (库车) refused us entry, stating a PSB regulation that supposedly says “foreigners are not allowed to stay in dorm rooms with Chinese nationals and must stay in standard rooms”, but apart from that, we didn’t encounter further hotel restriction issues in all the other Xinjiang towns we were in.
To this end, we didn’t manage to locate any relevant legislations online, but as with the recent visa and foreigner registration issues, we suppose the hotel restrictions are not new but they are now enforced more strictly as the Beijing Olympics approach. Anyone else with a similar experience elsewhere in China? Let us know in a comment below.