Cases of tourists to Hainan overcharged during CNY holiday trigger debate
Over 1 million tourists swarmed to south China’s Hainan province for the Chinese New Year holiday, pouring millions of dollars into the tropical resort island. But many of them say they spent too much.
According to Hainan’s tourism office, the island brought in more than 4.3 billion yuan (676 million U.S. dollars) in tourism-related revenues during the Spring Festival holiday (Jan. 22 to 28), up by 61 percent year-on-year.
However, tens of thousands of tourists have gone online to vent their frustration regarding overcharging and scammers who have supposedly fleeced the island’s visitors.
Luo Di, the president of a Beijing-based real estate agency, said a simple three-course meal cost his friend 4,000 yuan at a restaurant in Sanya, a coastal city located at the southern tip of Hainan. ( "My friend told me he only asked the price of the fish without ordering it. But the restaurant’s owner immediately cooked the fish and charged him 1,160 yuan per kilogram," Luo said in a post on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site. Luo’s post was forwarded over 40,000 times before he deleted it Sunday evening.
Mounting pressure from netizens resulted in a response from the government of Sanya on Sunday. The city’s information office said in a post on Sina Weibo that the seafood restaurant where Luo’s friend dined has been asked to close until an investigation into its pricing practices has been completed.
Hainan has also been slammed for soaring accommodation prices during the Spring Festival holiday, even after the provincial government ordered a cap on hotel room prices.
Zhang Ziran, a tourist from central China’s city of Wuhan, said the hotel he stayed in cost six times the amount charged during the normal season.
"Although Hainan can rake in enormous profits from the Spring Festival holiday, this method of running businesses is not sustainable," Zhang said.
Wang Jiansheng, chairman of the Hainan tourism research board, said local authorities should toughen regulations and mete out more severe penalties to those who fleece tourists.
Wu Kunxiong, deputy director of the Hainan Tourism Commission, admitted that the province still receives many complaints from tourists, as prices regularly skyrocket during the holiday season, particularly in Sanya.
Wu said the problems can be attributed to "inadequate facilities," but agreed that the island’s tourism industry needs to be reformed.
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