China's ever-expanding tourism market is the place all the major players in the world's hospitality industry are eying with envy. And it seems they are all lining up to get a slice of the pie.
America's massive Starwood Hotels and Resorts has been the latest chain to announce ambitious plans for its operations throughout China, claiming it will within three years add a further 100 hotels to the 75 it is currently operating throughout the country.
Starwood says much of its development will be aimed at China's "second- and third-tier" cities, rather than the major provincial capitals but that it will still be opening the doors to seven more of its Sheraton brand establishments by the end of September. Those hotels will be spread through the cities of Beijing, Xian, Chongqing, Zhenjiang and Hangzhou.
The company's first project in China was the Great Wall Sheraton in Beijing in 1985 and it believes that it is only a matter of time before its operations there outstrip the 450 hotels it currently operates across the United States.
Starwood's confidence in the Chinese market seems to be shared across the board.
The world's largest hotel chain (at least by number of rooms) is the InterContinental Hotels group and it believes its current crop of 137 hotels in China will be doubled within five years.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts meanwhile has 15 hotels across the nation now, 49 being developed and hopes to have around 100 opened within five years.
The reasons for all this expansion are pretty plain to see. Income from domestic tourism in China has already topped the one trillion yuan mark (10 billion euros) this year - a rise of 16 percent - while there have been 66 million inbound trips recorded during that period, according to the National Tourism Administration.
The NTA says that apart from the construction of new hotels, China currently has 3,837 tourism projects underway.
As well as the healthy domestic traffic, China welcomed 53 million visitors in 2010 - and hoped to lure 188 million by 2015.