China Monday vowed to revitalize restaurants and hotels hit by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)outbreak and to realize a nine percent annual growth in retail sales.
Vice-minister Zhang Zhigang of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said that due to SARS, Chinese hotels lost 65 billion yuan (about 7.9 billion US dollars) in the first six months of the year, and the catering industry suffered a 15.5 percent year-on-year decrease in May.
That pulled back the increase of the total volume of retail sales, raised unemployment, reduced residents' income and hinderedfarmers' income growth because of the negative impact on the sale of agricultural products, Zhang said.
Though the restaurants and hotels are recovering after SARS wascontrolled, great efforts were still needed due to the tough market situation, he said.
In a plan issued Monday afternoon, MOC said that China would help restaurants and hotels to recover by cutting tax and help them enhance sanitation, improve logistics, set up chain stores and cultivate customer loyalty.
Those enterprises should strictly abide by the laws on food sanitation and the protection of wild animals, which were popular with some Chinese clients. Restaurants were also told to divide dishes into individual portions rather than the traditional methodof sharing communal dishes, to reduce transmission of virus, the MOC plan said.
The ministry encourages enterprises to hold promotion activities and large-scale promotion fairs in cities including Beijing, TianjinShanghai and Chongqing will be the priority.