Beijing to raise standards of minsu, or homestays, with new regulation

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Beijing will introduce a new tourism regulation from Aug 1 to improve the operation and management of private accommodation rented to tourists, or minsu, as well as better govern day trips, the city government said.

The new regulation clarifies the definition of minsu as "accommodation offered by residents who own or have rights to use the property offered to guests".

As independent travelling becomes more popular in the Internet era, staying in minsu has grown in popularity, with homestays and boutique hotels offering tourists the opportunity to experience local lifestyles.

The regulation states that the city and district governments should guide the development of minsu and encourage the development in suburban areas. The governments should strengthen environmental protection in rural areas and improve infrastructure such as parking and toilets, it states.

Mr Wang Hongjian, an official from Beijing government's law department, said: "Operators must get a legal permit, with basic conditions including having firefighting equipment and meeting public hygiene standards.

"They should standardise management, such as protecting tourists' privacy and adopting fair trade methods."

Mr Cui Zhaohai, 29, who opened a minsu in downtown Beijing two years ago, said: "The new regulation encourages people to better operate minsu and serve their guests."

He said he achieved a sense of accomplishment by renovating an old courtyard dwelling into a well-decorated minsu, protecting the old architecture.

Mr Cui said  that compared with hotels, the locations and decor of minsu are more diverse, and such places offer more personalised services, with the operators keen to help guests.

Beijing office worker Chen Xiao, 30, who once stayed in a minsu in Lijiang, Yunnan province, said: "The operators are often friendly and you can chat with other tourists to gather travel tips and information about the local lifestyle. It's also convenient to find people who want to car pool or travel together to cut costs."

The new regulation also clarifies the definition of day trips in Beijing and addresses illegal activities such as forcing tourists to shop. It states that shopping during trips should be managed properly, with the city and district governments shouldering their responsibilities.

According to Mr Wang, the city government should release more detailed regulations about minsu in Beijing's urban and rural areas no later than Aug 1, 2018. Government departments including tourism, public security and environmental protection should each attend to their own duties and tighten supervision on the operation of minsu, he said.

"The detailed regulations will ensure the legality of minsu and satisfy the demands of tourists who want to enjoy leisure activities and sightseeing," he said.