Hotels adjacent to the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), the venue for the CIIE, have seen an unprecedented volume of bookings from overseas visitors heading to the event.
Statistics provided by China's largest online travel agency, Ctrip, shows that the number of bookings made on its platform by overseas visitors for the event period, from Nov 4 to 10, has doubled on a month-on-month basis, marking a new record.
More than 2,800 enterprises from over 180 countries and regions have signed up for the CIIE, the first-ever Chinese fair focusing exclusively on imported goods and services. Visitors from Australia make up the majority of the hotel bookings, followed by those from Japan, the United States, South Korea and New Zealand.
"As most of these participants are from the business and political sectors, they have relatively higher requirements regarding accommodation conditions," said Du Liangliang, general manager of Ctrip's domestic hotel business.
"More than 90 percent of them have reserved rooms at three-star hotels and above, and 65 percent of them have booked four and five-star hotels," Du said.
Starting from Nov 4, all hotels located within 5 kilometers of the exhibition venue will be fully occupied, he said.
According to the Shanghai Tourism Administration, more than 1,700 three-star and higher hotels will provide nearly 280,000 rooms to CIIE participants. The bureau has also teamed up with the tourism administration in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, to allocate 8,880 rooms in 49 hotels in the city as backup for CIIE visitors.
As of the end of July, all of the 780 rooms in Wisdom Rose Hotel in eastern Shanghai, which only opened in March this year, were booked by CIIE visitors, said Jin Wenxin, general manager of the hotel.
According to Ctrip, the majority of overseas CIIE visitors have also planned trips to neighboring cities. For instance, the number of high-speed train tickets for Nov 4-11 bought by overseas customers has jumped nearly 80 percent compared to the same period last year. The most popular destinations are Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, and Suzhou, Nanjing and Wuxi in Jiangsu province.
Many Chinese people have also made travel plans during the start of the expo period. On Oct 11, the Shanghai municipal government announced that local residents would get a three-day holiday from Nov 4 to 6 as part of measures to ease traffic conditions and ensure the smooth running of the event. However, residents will have to work on Nov 3 and 11 instead.
Ctrip said searches for hotels in neighboring cities spiked 80 percent within an hour of the notice being released. For three days, the number of reservations made for hotels in neighboring cities increased 80 percent from the previous month, with the bookings for Suzhou and Hangzhou rising the most significantly at 62 percent and 55 percent respectively.