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Xisha may open to tourists soon

By Xin Dingding  and Huang Yiming (China Daily)

09:25, May 11, 2012

A store on Yongxing Island in the South China Sea on Sunday.[Photo/China Daily]

The Xisha Islands in the South China Sea may open to tourists this year, officials said.

Located 330 kilometers southeast of South China's Hainan province, the Xisha Islands are one of four big island groups in the South China Sea, together with the Dongsha, Nansha and Zhongsha islands.

Tourists will be able to visit the islands mainly on cruise ships while some can travel by air, Feng Wenhai, an official in charge of the Zhongsha, Nansha and Xisha islands' affairs under Hainan provincial government, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.

"They will eat or sleep on the cruise ships, instead of on the islands Tourists can leave only footprints on the Xisha Islands," he said.

Planning is under way to estimate the islands' capacity for handling tourists and draft regulations for protection of the islands' environment, he said.

Calls to Feng's office on Wednesday afternoon went unanswered.

The arrangement is due to the islands' limited capacity.

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