BEIJING, China -- Beijing's selection as the host city for the 2008
Olympic Games will be a boon for China's economic development,
including its tourism industry, analysts and Asia tourism experts
The International Olympic Committee on July 13 awarded the Games
to Beijing, which beat out Istanbul, Turkey; Osaka, Japan; Paris,
The Beijing bid committee said it expected overall revenues of
$1.62 billion for the Games, which will cost the city $1.606
billion, yielding a modest $19 million profit.
But the economic impact of the Games could be far greater.
Analysts estimate that a Beijing Olympics would boost China's gross
domestic product by 0.3% per year from 2002 to 2008.
first Chinese Olympics in history will prompt Beijing to undertake
its greatest building effort since the construction of the Great
Wall, with more than $20 billion earmarked to upgrade public
transportation, expand airports, lengthen expressways and build new
In an effort to accommodate Olympics-bound visitors, Beijing
said it plans to grow its hotel room inventory by more than 50%
from its current 85,000 rooms to 130,000 by 2008.
"The hotel sector should experience the greatest impact" from
the Olympics, said Melinda McKay, vice president of research for
Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate development and investment
management firm in Chicago.
"The Games will result in significant new hotel construction as
well as refurbishment of existing properties," McKay said.
"Depending on how effectively Beijing leverages the Games, it could
have long-lasting and far-reaching implications for the city's
tourism, hotel and convention sector."
One hotel firm that stands to benefit from a Beijing Olympics is
Shangri-La Hotels, the Hong Kong-based operator of upscale hotels
in Asia. Of the company's 16 owned or operated hotels in mainland
China, four are in Beijing.
"The Beijing Olympics will give us additional exposure within
the global corporate community, in addition to opening up our
product to people who aren't familiar with Shangri-La," said
Carolyn Blackburn, the company's director of sales for the eastern
U.S. and Canada.
Blackburn said she has seen Beijing go through "dramatic
changes" during her tenure at Shangri-La.
"Beijing was somewhat gray when I first visited 10 years ago,"
she said. "There weren't many colors to its pallet. But now it's
alive in color and architecture and art, and it's a vibrant place
Beijing is making sure that green will be a prominent color
throughout the city. It is expected to spend $1.6 billion on sports
facilities and public spaces for the Games, including a 3,000-acre
forested park known as Olympic Green, which will contain venues for
15 sports, including the 80,000-seat main stadium.
Additional sports events and venues are planned for sites
outside Beijing, including Qingdao on China's east coast, which
will host sailing events, and Shanghai, which will host soccer.
On the environmental front, the city announced it would spend
$12 billion to clear smog by shutting polluting factories and
moving them to the outskirts of the capital, where they will burn
natural gas instead of coal. The city's buses and taxis also will
switch to natural gas to cut pollution.
Spurred in part by its Olympic bid, even the capital's public
toilets are getting a royal flush. The city has embarked on a
two-year renovation plan for more than 450 toilets at some 300
tourist sites, with the cleanest commodes receiving a four-star