China’s ‘tropical paradise’ wants to lure more foreign tourists

The beautiful coastal city of Sanya. Source: Shutterstock

SANYA, China’s “forever tropical paradise” located in Hainan province, is seeking more foreign tourists out for an unforgettable vacation that rolls nature, culture and shopping into one great adventurous splurge.

As China continues to attract tens of millions of tourists from around the world, Sanya has launched a blitzkrieg international campaign to pull tourists to its unique charm as the country’s only international seaside vacation destination.

Sanya’s government officials, headed by Mayor Wu Yanjun, and tourism operators have been crisscrossing different countries to promote travel to the seaside city and highlight its unique natural and rich tourism resources.

“As a strong advocate of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, Sanya has distinct geographical advantages, rich cultural resources and an ever-changing skyline as a result of ongoing construction and urbanization.

“The city’s role as China’s sole international-grade tropical seaside vacation destination has led it to attract millions of travelers from around the world annually,” the mayor said in a statement upon a recent promotional visit to Kazakhstan.

Yalong Beach is one of the most popular tourist areas in Sanya. Source: Shutterstock

In 2016, the China National Tourism Administration, according to Travel China Guide, recorded 138 million arrivals in the country, of whom 28 million are foreign and the rest from Hong Kong (81 million), Macau (23.5 million) and Taiwan (5.7 million).

Sanya, known in the ancient days as Zazhou, which means cliff state, has been named one of 52 Places to Go in 2017 by The New York Times, the only Chinese city included on the list this year. The publication described Sanya as the “Hawaii of China”.

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Sanya’s unique location at the southern end of Hainan Island, the second largest island in China, created the right environment for the development of the city as an international vacation spot, according to the Sanya Tourism Development Commission.

Sanya, with an area of 1919.6 sq km, has six gorgeous bays that boast white-sand beaches and turquoise sea water. Yalong Beach is one of the most popular tourist areas in Sanya, owing to the easy access to its wide and long beach.

For tourists who prefer a more relaxed and less crowded environment, there’s Haitang Beach. There are several coral islands to the south of Sanya, the Wuzhizhou Islands lies near Haitang Beach, and West Island near Sanya Bay. Both islands are suitable for diving.

An aerial view of Wuzhizhou Island. Source: Shutterstock

For a taste of culture, Sanya is home to different Chinese ethnic groups like the Li, Miao, Hui and Han nationalities. The Li nationality settled on the island more than 3,000 years ago.

Due to its various ethnic tribes and the influx of foreign tourists, Sanya offers diverse local and international cuisines. Known for their many delicious seafood dishes, locals are proud to offer their iconic Hainanese chicken rice dish.

With its lovely beaches and islands, Sanya has been primed also as a local and international wedding and honeymoon destination. The city has attracted international five-star hotels as well as mid-range and budget accommodation operators to serve its growing tourist arrivals.

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Efforts to promote Sanya received a big boost when the city hosted the BRICS Leaders’ Meeting in 2011, which was attended by the presidents of the  Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. On top of that, Sanya is well-connected to Beijing, Shanghai and other important cities across China through a number of flights. From Hong Kong, it is a 90-minute flight.

For entertainment lovers and shopaholics, most of Sanya’s nightlife and shopping places are located in the downtown area. Sanya houses the world’s largest duty-free shopping center, the China Duty Free Mall. Built at a cost of US$800 million, the mall spans 70,000 sq m spread over three storeys housing the stores of famous international brands or products and entertainment venues.