TOURISTS will soon be able to live with local families instead of staying in hotels, probably in the latter half of this year, as Shanghai plans to restore a service that proved popular during the 2010 World Expo.

The first batch of 16 "Shanghai Host Families" will be in downtown Xuhui District, officials said yesterday.

Some were host families during the Expo and gained a lot of experience in receiving and entertaining tourists.

District officials have visited all the families to ensure they will provide a good service and that there will be no objections from neighbors.

The selected residents have been chosen for their knowledge of traditional culture. Many are good at calligraphy or Chinese painting, or have a good command of foreign languages.

Among the first batch of households, 13 will provide accommodation and the other three will entertain visitors during the day.

The home-stay service is non-profit making, said Yao Bin, an official with the Xuhui District Tourism Administration.

The service will charge only a small amount to cover operational costs. During the Expo period, tourists were charged about 200 yuan (US$31.5) per night. The charge for the new service hasn't been finalized but it is expected to be about the same.

Xuhui officials said more than 540 tourists stayed with families in the district during the Expo - around 20 percent of them from overseas.

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