Hainan to clean up tourism to become global attraction

18:41, January 06, 2010      

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China's only tropical island province Hainan is to clean up its tourism industry in its drive to become a global tourist destination like Hawaii or Indonesia's Bali.

The provincial government would set up a long-term process to tackle problems like poor services, overcharging or "dumping" of tour groups deemed unprofitable, said Provincial Governor Luo Baoming Wednesday.

Luo made the remarks at a press conference in Beijing after the Chinese government Monday issued a plan to build Hainan into a top international destination by 2020.

"The top task for Hainan to develop into an international tourist resort is to clean up the tourism environment, including building a long-term mechanism to the manage tourism industry, levy penalties and fines on malpractice and provide more training," Luo said.

The first penalty this year issued from Hainan tourist department was made on Jan. 3.

Tourist guide Zhang Chao dumped 11 tourists after they refused to pay fees for "optional" tourist sites on Dec. 18, 2008.

After the tourists complained, the provincial tourist department found Zhang violated a contract under which tourists could choose not to visit the optional sites. Zhang was also found to have changed travel routes to seek more commissions.

Zhang was fined 20,000 yuan (2,928 U.S. dollars). The travel agency Zhang worked for, Baozhong Travel Agency, had its business license revoked.

"It's painful and embarrassing to hear complaints from tourists on cheating, overcharging, fake goods and dumping," Luo said.

He cited an old Chinese proverb-- "A small piece of rat dung can ruin a pot of soup" -- and insisted that an orderly tourism industry was the minimum requirement for the island's ascendance to international destination status.

Asked about expanding golf courses in Hainan, Luo denied the province had violated China's strict rules on building golf courses and had never used subsistence farmland to build golf courses.

Hainan would hold a large international tourism forum in March as part of its drive to become a global destination, said Hainan Communist Party of China chief Wei Liucheng at the press conference.

The forum would promote Hainan's tourism and draw many national tourism department and culture department heads, Wei said.

Hainan was designated a province in 1988 and became China's largest special economic zone the same year, enjoying preferential development policies.

The island boasts year-round tropical weather, clean beaches, forests and diverse ethnic cultures.

The central government Monday announced in a guideline that it aimed to build Hainan into a top international tourist destination by 2020.

Wei said Hainan would open more duty-free shops to attract tourists and shoppers following the central government guideline.

Hainan would extend its visa-free tourism policy to include Finland, Denmark, Norway, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. It already covers 21 nations, including the United States, Japan and Canada, according to the guideline.

Source: Xinhua

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