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Hotel giants bet big on Sanya tourism

By Wang Wen in Sanya (China Daily)

08:16, March 26, 2012

A five-star luxury hotel in Sanya, Hainan province. International investors are keen to expand in the resort city. (Zhang Jie / for China Daily)

Industry majors keen to cash in on booming sector in southern resort

China's southern Hainan province is a veritable paradise, with tourists flocking to its sunny shores and golden sands.

However, a shadow was recently cast over this "paradise".

The island and, in particular, its beach city Sanya, made headlines nationwide with the eruption of a tourist overcharging scandal during the Spring Festival holiday in January.

Luo Di, who works for a Beijing-based real estate agency, wrote on China's popular microblogging site Sina Weibo that his friend was charged 4,000 yuan ($635) for a simple three-course meal in Sanya.

Sanya's industry and commerce bureau also revealed that a seafood restaurant charged customers 9,764 yuan for a seven-course meal during the holiday.

These revelations sparked a torrent of complaints from tourists who were angry at being overcharged on the island, with many of them vowing not to travel there any more.

Potential investors, however, remain keen to cash in on the island's booming economic activities.

Luxury hotels, for example, are speeding up their expansion in Sanya, leading to concerns that a bubble is forming in the city's tourism market.

When it comes to high-end infrastructure, many are wondering whether the island has enough bays to accommodate the luxury hotel expansion wave, although they know that the industry's big guns' enthusiasm for Hainan remains undimmed.

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