Regular readers of WiC will be familiar with Huaxi, the place in Jiangsu that terms itself as “China’s richest village” (see WiC130). Huaxi has stunned local media with its economic success which has allowed its 2,000 ‘shareholder’ families to enjoy free healthcare and fat annual bonuses. Village elders even splurged $485 million on China’s eighth tallest building – a 328-metre tower containing a five star hotel. But as the Shanghai Daily reported this week, the plan to diversify into tourism is proving trickier for Huaxi than its earlier ventures. The Long Hope International Hotel is nowhere near full-occupancy and made just Rmb150 million ($24.2 million) in revenue last year, leaving it “far from profitable” according to its general manager, Dai Liming.
Luckily the village’s plucky new head Wu Xie’en (he took over after his father Wu Renbao died) has a solution. Instead of paying out its usual cash bonus to Huaxi residents, Wu has given them coupons that can only be spent in the hotel. Business has picked up as locals checked-in to the vacant luxury rooms: “Some families stayed as long as a month,” reports Shanghai Daily. It sounds like a neat one-off idea, but unless real guests turn up, Huaxi’s tower looks like becoming a white elephant.
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