LONDON – Sanya, popularly known as the Hawaii of China and home to the Miss World Finals, is deepening its relationship with the UK by spearheading a new initiative to boost British tourist arrivals, as part of China’s One Belt One Road policy which mirrors the revival of the old maritime Silk Road.
Working closely with the UK travel industry, the Sanya government has signed a new agreement with Thomas Cook to create new travel packages to draw attention on this tropical destination, which is just over half a day’s flight from the UK. Mr Yue Jin, Deputy Party Secretary of the Sanya Municipal Committee and Executive Vice Mayor of Sanya was in the UK to sign the agreement and met with trade partners and city officials at a special promotion event in London to develop new links and direct flights which could be in place as early as next year. He also signed a new sister city agreement with Blackpool, a popular seaside resort city in Lancashire.
“British tourists are adventurous travelers and familiar with tropical destinations across the globe. Sanya offers a new experience which combines China’s traditional culture with over 300 sunny days a year, clean air, crystal clear waters and extensive sandy beaches and sports including golf and diving,” said Mr Yue Jin.
“Sanya has invested heavily in its infrastructure yet retained its character as the pearl of the South China Sea. It remains relatively undiscovered on the international stage and surpasses other more crowded destinations on issues of safety and cleanliness, variety of experiences from rainforests to mountains as well as value for money in terms of visitor attractions,” he added.
Sanya received 358,000 overseas tourist arrivals in 2015 and plans to boost this number to over 1 million by 2018. It is expected that 20 million visitors will visit Sanya by 2020, making it the largest international tourism hub in South China.
In conjunction with the travel industry, Sanya has also launched a number of new initiatives which are designed to increase visitor arrivals.
New Tourist Friendly Infrastructure
The Sanya government, Sanya Tourism Development Commission and its travel trade partners have invested heavily in new infrastructure including new roads, railways, tourism industry regulation and offering improved service to visitors. The Phase II expansion project of Phoenix Island International Cruise Terminal is underway. The project will feature additions of two berths for 150,000 DWT ships, and two berths for 225,000 DWT ships. Upon its completion, the terminal will become Asia’s largest cruise homeport. A new airport will be built on an artificial island in the city, with its annual passenger throughput expected to reach 60 million.
New Tourism Police
Last year, Sanya also set up China’s first dedicated tourist police force, to enhance visitor service satisfaction and promote a quality tourism environment.
Sanya is currently accessible with international flights through major Chinese gateway cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, making it ideal for a dual destination holiday. Direct UK flights could be in place as early as the first half of 2017.
Luxury Hotel Haven
Sanya’s five sandy bays are home to most major international five-star hotel brands. Sanya now has more than 100 star-rated hotels, providing over 50,000 rooms. Opening this year will be design icon, Ian Schrager’s EDITION hotel. New in 2017 will be The Atlantis Resort Sanya, which will be the first one-stop vacation & tourism destination integrating a hotel, dining, shopping, entertainment, aquarium and water park in one location in China. The hotel will offer 1,314 guest rooms and an aquarium featuring more than 60,000 sea animals.
International Digital Platforms
The Sanya Tourism Development Commission has expanded its digital footprint with new or revamped websites including English, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. It has also opened social media accounts on six major overseas social networking and travel review platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and TripAdvisor to further promote the city in the international tourism market.
New Information Centre
The Sanya Resident and Visitor Information Centre, which was set up last year, now has a 24-hour service hotline, available in English, Korean and Russian.
Visa Free Access for British Groups
British Citizens can enjoy visa-free access for 15 days with a group of five or more. The city is working closely with central government to improve visa free access as part of the One Belt One Road co-operation.