Sansha seeks to become major tourist attraction

Updated: 2016-05-27 07:36

By Li Xiaokun And Liu Xiaoli In Sansha, Hainan(China Daily)

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Journey to China's southernmost city expected to be like a trip to the Maldives

Editor's Note: China Daily is running a series of articles on the South China Sea. The articles cover a range of topics and provide a fascinating insight into what life is like on the islands. Today, our reporters look at plans to further boost tourism, while the mayor of Sansha explains his vision.

Sansha, nicknamed the "city of spray" because of its proximity to the sea, will become a major tourist attraction comparable to the Maldives and will be a key post on the Maritime Silk Road, its mayor said.

"We will develop some islands and reefs to accommodate a select number of tourists," Xiao Jie, mayor of China's southernmost city, told China Daily in a recent interview. The city, established in 2012, administers a maritime area of 2 million square kilometers.

"It will be an orderly and gradual procedure," he said, adding that the sites opened to the public and tourists will be islands and reefs that do not need a military presence.

Cruise ships have been sailing from Sanya, in southern Hainan province, to several islands in Xisha since April 2013. There were 65 trips last year, with 16,000 passengers making the journey.

Though far from the Chinese mainland, Xiao said, tourists will not face unreasonable charges.

"The cost of a cruise ticket is not too high, about 4,000 to 5,000 yuan ($610 to $760). It is very popular and not easy to get a ticket," he said.

The cruise attracts people with a sense of adventure and patriotism, he said. "It is not an easy trip, but many people with a patriotic spirit want to try it. They also want to have a taste of ocean life."

Food on the islands will be "definitely cheaper than on Hainan island", he said, adding that the Sanya government will pay close attention to tourism management, including pricing.

Environmental protection will also be a focus.

The cruise ships have another key advantage, he said, as they are big enough to cater to large numbers of people without overwhelming the local ecology.

Tourists are instructed to take away any garbage they produce on the islands, he said.

"The islands have received about 30,000 visitors in the past three years. But the environment of the islands that receive the ships is better than before."

Sansha plans to introduce garbage transfer ships, as well as those for interisland transport and maritime law enforcement.

Sea planes, introduced this year, will give tourists a different perspective. Fishing and diving will be on the itinerary, along with island weddings for romantics.

Flights to Sansha from Haikou or Sanya will be available, he added.

"It is our dream that one day we can fly to the capital from Sansha. That will definitely be fulfilled."

Xiao said that by developing tourism, fishermen will be attracted to the service industry, pushing forward the transition of the local economy.

"The arrival of tourists will nourish the need for divers and windsurfers. We can use the Yongxing School to train fishermen for the new jobs. It is important to have the local community share the benefits."

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 Sansha seeks to become major tourist attraction

Tourists experience diving at Yinyu, one of the Xisha Islands in South China’s Hainan province. The first group of tourists visited the islands after the route from Sanya went into operation in 2014. Xinhua

Sansha seeks to become major tourist attraction

(China Daily 05/27/2016 page5)