China’s preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games will enhance its capabilities for serving the millions of tourists that are anticipated to visit the country in coming years, reports GlobalAtlanta’s publisher, Philip Bolton.

“When Deng Xiaoping announced his new policy of economic openness, China didn’t have many hotels,” Dongfang Tan, executive deputy general manager of the historic Beijing Hotel near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, said during an interview with Mr. Bolton at the hotel on June 14.

Mr. Bolton traveled to the Chinese cities of Beijing, Harbin, and Qingdao June 13-17 as a guest of Jiangong Wang, general director of the Qingdao Tourism Administration and Nick Qin, president of Norcross-based China Professional Tours.

Built in 1900, the Beijing Hotel has been the site of some of China’s most historic events during the 20th century including a banquet for the official founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The International Olympic Committee’s evaluation team also stayed at the hotel before announcing the acceptance of Beijing’s Olympic bid on July 13, 2001.

Mr. Tan said that by competing to host the 2000 Games, which were held in Sydney, Australia, Beijing had begun to make preparations for hosting the 2008 event. It was not until its bid for the 2008 Games was accepted, however, that Beijing earnestly began to develop the hotels it would need.

He said that there currently are 400 new hotels being built in Beijing. The presence of cranes across the skyline attests to their construction in addition to the many offices and residential buildings also being built.

But as a large digital clock in Tiananmen Square counts down the minutes to the beginning of the Games in 2008, construction companies are racing to finish their work by January 2007.

The government has ordered that construction throughout the city end at the beginning of 2007, Mr. Tan said, to provide as pollution-free an environment for the athletes and visitors as possible.

Qingdao, which is on the coast of the Yellow Sea, has developed into a fashionable resort that will host the Games’ sailing events. Besides coastal villas, it also has several newly constructed hotels that will provide their upscale visitors the latest in modern conveniences.

The Qingdao International Tourism Expo, held the second week of June, attracted representatives from many regional tourist agencies, which anticipate a booming business from Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists.

During a seminar at the Expo about the future of tourism in the region, speakers referred to the World Tourism Organization’s prediction that China will be the No. 1 tourist destination in the world by 2020. The World Tourism Organization is a United Nations agency based in Madrid.

Harbin, located in Northeast China, already attracts many tourists annually to its ice and snow festival held during the winter. While it will not host any of the 2008 Olympic events, its officials have caught the Olympic spirit and are busily preparing a bid for a future Winter Olympic Games.

To learn more about the Olympic preparations taking place in China and their impact on tourism to the region, call China Professional Tours at (770) 849-0300 or visit