A New Resort for Leisure and Vacation -- Beyond Site-seeing
   2013-12-13 13:31:06    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Luo Chun

Opera "Maritime Silk Road" [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

Sanya is enjoying success in the early stages of the transformation of its tourism industry, having launched various tourist products following the National Development and Reform Commission's decision to approve the Development Plan for Constructing Hainan as International Tourist Island on June 8, 2010. By delving deep into local culture and trying different tourism models, Sanya's tourism industry has been going from strength to strength. Tourist consumption levels have increased as the focus has now turned from sightseeing to leisure activities and vacation packages.

"Sanya is like a young male character from a Jin Yong's Kung-fu novel, imbued with immense inner power," said a professor in the tourism department of Hainan University. Since the National Development and Reform Commission approved the Development Plan for Constructing Hainan as an International Tourist Island on June 8, 2010, Sanya has witnessed success as it begins to transform and develop its tourism industry and has produced a system for various tourism products.

With new products, including low-airspace tours, anniversary vacation packages, honeymoon trips and cultural tourism activities, Sanya is able to host more tourists and its tourism revenue is continuously increasing. Take the 2013 Golden Week for example, where Sanya hosted 435, 500 tourists during the week alone, marking an increase of 42.41% compared with the same time last year.

This October, when north China was mostly covered in smog, I returned to my hometown Hainan after ten years of living in the north. With its blue sea, clear skies and golden beaches, I recognized it as it had always been, but its new image as an international tourist resort made me doubt whether it was the same place I was born in. After a one week trip spent exploring the island, I gained a clear impression of Sanya's development in tourism.

Upgrading Tourist Products Based on Cultivating Local Culture

"Welcome to Tianya Haijiao, where it's always spring." The song 'Welcome to Tianya Haijiao' became popular in 1982, transforming Shen Xiaocen 每 once an unknown construction worker 每 into a big star. It also made Tianya Haijiao one of the island's must-visit travel hotspots.

Tianya Haijiao, literally means the edge of the sky and the end of the earth; a popular vow goes "I will love you till the seas dry up and the rocks decay; I will follow you to the edge of sky and the end of the earth". So, a tradition has existed for thousands of years where men and women walk together along the site's Tianya Road which represents long-lasting love.

Relegated government officials and literati were often exiled to Hainan throughout history due to its isolated and distant location. In the Qing dynasty, Yazhou governor Cheng Zhe carved the two characters, 'tian' and 'ya', onto a huge stone by the beach. During the anti-Japanese war, the garrison commander of Qiongya inscribed another two characters, 'hai' and 'jiao', onto a nearby stone. A picture of "Nantian Yizhu", a gigantic rock which stands by the stormy sea, is seen on the back of the two-yuan bill issued in China in 1990. Following thousands of years of cultural accumulation, Tianya Haijiao has become a resort for people to express love and review history, and it bears a rich cultural heritage.

Sanya, once a desolate and distant place, has become a showcase for beauty and romance. Tianya Haijiao has become an icon in Sanya and a prime symbol for unswerving love.

According to Ye Biwei, director of the Tianya Haijiao scenic spot office, by making full use of the cultural concept of Tianya Haijiao as a synonym of faithful love, Sanya has developed major tourism products such as anniversary trips and local cultural performances. It has established a flourishing local culinary industry, arts and crafts businesses, and a marine industry. A RV camping site, culture garden, performance venue and honeymoon theme park are now also being developed at Tianya Haijiao, which will become even more fashionable and romantic once completed.

In addition to upgrading traditional scenic spots, some new sites are becoming popular, with their deep connection to local culture. The Sanya Eternal Scenic Spot attracts many tourists with performances related to local culture and history at around 4 every afternoon while most other scenic spots are quieting down. The Sanya Eternal Performance Center is dedicated to bringing tourists an unique experience and the best understanding of Li and Miao culture and Sanya's profound history, said the center's deputy manager.

The Eternal Scenic Spot has hosted about 120,000 tourists, approximately 6,000 per day, since being opened. As Tang Sixian, deputy director of Sanya Municipal Tourist Committee, once said, "a beautiful scenery and rich natural resources make it possible for a city to develop tourism and attract tourists, but it's not enough to make people stay. Natural resources and cultural heritage are two indispensable factors for tourism, but it's the distinctive features of a culture that really fuels tourism."

Utilizing Tourist Products with an Innovative Marian Mentality

Located in Sanya Bay, Phoenix Island is alluded to in Yijing, the Chinese Book of Changes. The 2008 Olympics torch relay started from this island before continuing all the way to the Bird's Nest. Wang Wanmao, the deputy manager of Sanya Phoenix Island International Cruise Terminal, explained that this symbolized the ancient Chinese concept of a phoenix traveling back to its nest.

Phoenix Island is one of the boasts some of the greatest geographical advantages of all the natural harbors in the world. It is also the most important passing point for international tourists entering and leaving Hainan. It is located close to Sanya City and takes only one hour by ship to reach one of the main international cruise channels. Sanya International Cruise Port was officially declared open in November 2007, after 7 years of construction.

So far, luxury cruise liners from over 20 cruise lines worldwide have berthed in Phoenix Island. The world's top three cruise lines, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Star Cruise have selected it as their long-term berth port. In November 2011, a direct shipping line from Sanya to Vietnam was opened. With an increase of 52%, voyage reservation numbers reached 262 in 2013, and 128 receptions have been held to date.

According to Wang Wanmao, Sanya is very similar to Miami in terms of geographical latitude, climate, environment, conditions for harbor construction and tourist resources. Experts predict that the number of people traveling abroad through cruise liners will surpass 2 million by 2020, which will increase local economic output by 10 billion yuan, and provide 50,000 employment opportunities.

The second project is now undergoing construction, and includes the construction of an artificial island 479,000 m2, four international cruise terminals and a new standard inspection building; Phoenix Island will be able to nestle six to eight cruise liners once the project is accomplished, said Wang.

Wang said very confidently that he believes Phoenix will become Asia's biggest base harbor and one of the finest tourist holiday resort in the future, with cruise yacht clubs, ultramodern seven-star hotels, dynamic and diverse commercial plazas, and original and attractive harbor towns.

The yacht industry is rising alongside developments such as the construction of an international cruise line harbor. The first yacht came into being in the mid-17th century when an exquisite royal ship for hunting and fishing was presented as a gift to the British emperor. In the 18th century, the yacht became a symbol of royalty and wealth among the European maritime nations. Nowadays, yacht has become one of the top two choices for fun trips alongside the private jet. Undoubtedly, the yacht industry has developed at a fast pace for Hainan's high-end tourism.

There are 270 berths for yachts in Hongzhou Port with 120 being used throughout the year; the number of berths will reach 600 and the utility percentage will be over 20% when the third project of harbor construction is completed, said Chen Zhoumin, manager of Hainan's first cruise yacht club 每 Sanya Hongzhou International Yacht Club.

According to data, Sanya boasts 8 yacht-harbors, including Hongzhou, Banshan Peninsula, Phoenix Plaza, Yalong Bay. 2000 berths are in programming with 768 already in function. By 2015, Sanya will have the most yacht-berths in China.

From Low-airspace Flight to Haitang Bay Speed

Men dream about flying, and now they can realize this dream whilst enjoying a panoramic view of Sanya Bay onboard the Robinson 44 jet, which can carry four passengers.

Gao Xiuyan, deputy manager of Hainan Sanya Yalong General Aviation Company 每 an amphibious aviation entrepreneur 每 said that low-airspace flights will operate along the shorelines of Sanya Bay, Tianya Haijiao, South Mountain, Wuzhizhou Island and Haitang Bay, and that they've developed such products as weddings in the sky and static celebratory displays.

According to Gao, a 15-minute flight around the Sanya Bay shoreline costs 1,500 yuan per person. She added that they will increase the number of jets and open up new lines which include the interior parts of Hainan Island and exclusive flights for Tour de Sanya.

Hainan's 12 to 15-Year Plan aimed at developing the island into 'Hainan in the Air' and fostering a three-dimensional sea-air-land tourist industry seeks to make use of the low-airspace industry. According to the Sanya's Low-airspace Tourism Development Plan, they will build a Sanya Hydroplane Center, Yalong Bay Helicopter Tour Base, five additional helicopter airports, the Haitang Bai Fire Balloon Activity Center, and Wuzhizhou Island Dynamic Parachute Center.

According to statistics found by some research institutes, low-airspace tourism revenue will reach 800 million by 2017 given that the annual increase rate remains at 10% from 2012 to 2017. Experts predict that low-airspace tourism, as a new tourist product, will help to realize the transformation of Sanya's tourist industry by focusing more on increasing consumption instead of solely attracting more tourists.

While cruises, yachts and low-airspace flights are emerging as promising new industries, tourism in Haitang Bay, which is known as the "National Harbor", is also developing at an incredible speed. Since the Haitang Bay project began in 2004, great achievements have been made, and already surpassed that of the Yalong Bay development project which lasted for 21 years. A large number of talented people have gone to Haitang Bay to help build the bay at an amazing pace, known as "Haitang speed", said Wu Zhongbin, vice director of the Haitang Bay Management Committee.

With 32 five-star hotels, the island's largest duty-free shopping center and ten towns boasting rich folklore culture, Haitang Bay is being targeted for development as a future icon of China's leisure tourism industry. A local citizen, Mr. Tan, who wore a T-shirt with an image of a coconut tree, said with a broad smile that building Haitang Bay into a world-class vacation resort will improve people's living conditions and create more jobs. While he was talking, the local Haitang Bay theme song sounded above the cool sea breeze.

According to the Sanya's Low-airspace Tourism Development Plan, they will build a Sanya Hydroplane Center, Yalong Bay Helicopter Tour Base, five additional helicopter airports, the Haitang Bai Fire Balloon Activity Center, and Wuzhizhou Island Dynamic Parachute Center. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

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