Hainan province will launch another cruise ship route in Sansha in June to boost tourism in the South China Sea, Lu Zhiyuan, head of the provincial tourism department, said recently.
Lu said the current cruise ship Coconut Princess has only 200 beds, which can’t meet the needs of increasing tourist numbers.
Travelers can take Coconut Princess from Sanya to three islands in the South China Sea on a four-day trip that costs from 3,980 yuan ($636) to 12,200 yuan.
According to Xiao Jie, mayor of Sansha, Coconut Princess sailed 36 times and carried nearly 6,000 tourists to Sansha last year. Xiao said there are more than 80 people working for five dining and entertainment centers for travelers in Sansha.
In order to protect the environment on the islands, tourists are currently asked to eat and spend the night on the ship.
As an island city in the South China Sea, Sansha has unique tourism resources, said Xiao.
This year, a tourism company will be founded there to boost the city’s maritime tourism industry. The city also wants to build hotels and bring in new shipping routes to attract more visitors.
Projects including building roads and planting trees have been accelerated to cater to the demand of an increasing population and tourists.
In July 2012, China established Sansha, with its government seat on Yongxing Island, to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea.
As China’s newest city, Sansha administers more than 280 islets. But it handles the smallest land area and population for a prefecture-level city.
For generations, Sansha’s islets have served as landmarks and post houses for Chinese fishermen. Now the leafy islets attract people from other parts of China with their white beaches, ocean views and seafood.
Despite the city’s rapid progress, the biggest challenge for Sansha’s tourism industry is still the lack of basic infrastructure and transport. Most of its islands are more than 100 nautical miles from Hainan and are heavily dependent on supplies from outside.
According to Hainan’s annual government work report, maritime tourism will top the provincial government’s agenda this year.
“We have been increasing the investment in Sansha’s tourism industry. Hopefully it will have a breakthrough in 2015,” said Xiao.