Forum fosters guesthouse industry

Officials, scholars and insiders recently put their heads together to develop the minsu market, a fast-growing niche in the hospitality sector.

A forum on Chinese-style guesthouses, known as minsu, was held over the weekend in Xuhui District, with officials, scholars and hospitality insiders among the attendees.

Authorities in Shanghai will work out a ratings-system for rural minsu, establish a Shanghai minsu association and release tourism insurance to promote minsu development, said Zhu Guojian, director of the resource department at the Shanghai Administration of Culture and Tourism. 

"In addition, efforts will also be made for the creation of a minsu model zone and the development of minsu itineraries in Shanghai," he said. 

The development of minsu with Shanghai flare has huge potential and the city will further improve policies, promote the joint development of minsu in the Yangtze River Delta Region and raise the cultural influence and competitiveness of local minsu, Zhu added. 

"Old longtang (lane) and shikumen (stone-gated) houses will make good resources for boutique urban minsu. Enriching experiences and injecting vitality into minsu is important," said Feng Xuegang, a professor at East China Normal University.

Feng predicts that chain and boutique minsu will gain popularity in the future.

The number of minsu operating across China has exploded over recent years, yet the industry remains weak due to a shortage of experienced talent, he explained.

Fluctuating prices, unstable occupancy rates and lack of marketing knowledge are also problems facing minsu operators, said Shen Aixiang, CEO of a minsu management platform. 

During the forum, a Yangtze River Delta Region minsu alliance was established to strengthen industry communication, lift service quality and promote countryside revitalization.

Last year, Shanghai also released guidelines promoting and regulating local minsu. A number of local minsu have since been licensed.

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