Chinese Hotels May No Longer Refuse Foreigners

By Billy Jiang, May 27, 2024

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Ever had the experience of reaching your dream destination in China, only to be turned away by a hotel claiming they lack the qualifications to host foreign tourists? 

Well, that should now be a thing of the past.

Recently, travelers from Nigeria, the UK, and Pakistan reported being refused accommodation by hotels citing reasons such as "not qualified to host foreigners" or "not knowing how to input information into the system." 

This issue is particularly common in small cities or budget hotels, causing significant inconvenience and stress to international travelers.

In response, China's Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Commerce, and National Immigration Administration issued a unified statement

"Hotels must not refuse foreign guests on the grounds of lacking foreign-related qualifications."

Moreover, the Ministry of Commerce has instructed the China Hospitality Association to strengthen coordination with online platforms to offer a series of English courses for hotel staff. 

These courses will cover topics like check-in procedures and room reservations, helping hotel employees better serve foreign guests.

This is certainly a welcome development, especially with the powerful "must not refuse" directive.

But what exactly is this mysterious "foreign-related qualification" that has caused so much trouble? 

Hotels must apply for a foreign-related permit from local public security authorities, proving they are equipped to host foreigners and residents from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. 

If a hotel plans to host foreign tour groups, it must also apply for a tourism business license from the local tourism bureau.

Hotels with foreign-related qualifications must meet several criteria, including:

  • Staff, particularly front desk employees, need to have certificates proving their ability to serve foreign guests, such as English proficiency certificates.

  • Hotels must offer international call services, international TV channels, bilingual menus, and bilingual signage.

  • Building quality must meet national commercial user standards, with each bed having at least 4 square meters of space (I know what you are thinking, get your taps packed!) and the hotel having at least 30 beds in total.

  • Hotels must meet environmental requirements.

However, having foreign-related qualifications is more about hotel ratings than a strict mandate. 

Hotels without these qualifications might still serve foreign guests, but might not offer the same level of convenience.


Many hotels on Chinese online booking platforms still state they only receive "Chinese mainland guests." Screenshot by That's

In reality, hotels often decide on their own whether to host you. 

Seasoned hotel staff sometimes don’t bother explaining, simply saying: "Sorry, we're fully booked."

Have you ever been refused accommodation in China? Share your experiences with us! For more travel news in China, follow our WeChat account, ThatsGBA.

[Cover image via pixabay]

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