Hotels have slashed prices by 10% to 20% or more three weeks before the Beijing Olympics start, China's largest online travel website Ctrip.com said.
With the Games to run on August 8-24, rooms in three-star hotels are now down to an average of 400 yuan (about $58) against 700 yuan ($102) in May and June. Four-star hotels reduced prices to 800 yuan ($117) per night from 1,500 yuan ($219), Ctrip.com said.
"The reasons could be multiple and a price cut during the Olympic is now a trend," Wu Jiaoli, a press officer with Ctrip.com, said as quoted by the China Daily paper.
"One reason is that the occupancy rate is less than expected; another is to undercut competitors at the last moment," Wu said.
China expects 400,000-450,000 foreign guests for the summer games. However, some tourists have been returning tickets and canceling hotel bookings due to difficulties in obtaining visas. Authorities in China have stepped up security ahead of the games, also tightening visa regulations.
The China Daily said, citing Wu, that the cuts in hotel prices mainly targeted Chinese nationals.
Chinese tourists differ from foreign tourists in their tendency to make reservations two to three days before arrival. A lower price now could hence attract more domestic bookings, Wu said.
With the Games approaching, cheaper and more modest hotels are now gaining popularity, with a growing number of reservations from budget travelers during the past weeks, Wu said.