As a foreigner who lived in Hainan Province for years, I agree with Wang Yong's article of February 20, "Kickback and fraud eating away at Hainan Province's tourism brand."
When I first arrived at Hainan, I was amazed by the scenery, natural spots and quiet beaches. Hainan was a magic spot, almost like a paradise. I remember in 2005-06, things were quite different than they are right now.
At that time, people were nice and helped each other, rather than trying to steal business from each other. Local people used to be nice to foreigners too, but because of some unfortunate ignorance and misunderstandings between cultures nations, some international violence appeared.
I even got beaten up badly at a night barbecue, while eating quietly with my husband and his brother, by people we'd never met before.
This happened even though we were always nice to everyone, had many local friends, and even spoke fluent Putonghua and some local dialects.
I even heard a few local people passing some unpleasant comments about foreigners coming to their island. I remember once a young police officer told me "Because of all of you foreigners, the price of housing is too high for average people to afford buying a house. It's not fair that locals cannot afford to buy a house, while foreigners come and buy a house just for their holiday."
I agree to some extent, but let's not forget one thing: The local government was already inflating housing prices before lots of foreigners bought houses. And most of the "foreigners" are Chinese residing overseas.
If the local government conducted more activities to promote understanding between people from different countries, religions and cultures, this would help locals to better understand their foreign guests, and for the foreign guests to better understand locals. Less violence would occur too. I just wish for a better future for Hainan, my home for a few mostly happy years.
I feel sad to see it drowning under a bad reputation. Many reasons pushed me to leave the island for good.
I am not going back, and unfortunately some other foreigners are also taking similar decisions, or have moved already. We saw Hainan at its very first rise, with admiration and good hopes for its future.
Let's hope the local government stops being too greedy and thinks of a long-term plan to improve the island's reputation, its services, and the connections between locals and foreigners.
Jacynthe Cauvier, an interpreter based in Canada
SOURCE: Global Times
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