CHINA is scheduled to let tourists visit the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea ahead of the May Day holiday, according to Tan Li, executive vice governor of Hainan Province.
People will be allowed to visit the islands on cruise tours, Tan said on Saturday.
The Xisha is a cluster of about 40 islets, sandbanks and reefs.
Tourists will eat and sleep on cruise ships and can land on the islands for sightseeing, Tan said. Cruise tours are the choice as hotels and other facilities to accommodate tourists are inadequate, he added.
There is only one hotel with 56 rooms on the 2.13-square-kilometer Yongxing Island, the largest island in the Xisha group and home to the government offices of Sansha city.
In addition, there is no fresh water and all supplies have to be transported from outside.
The city was established last summer to administer more than 200 islets, sandbanks and reefs in the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and 2 million square kilometers of surrounding waters.
A cruise ship that can accommodate 1,965 passengers is ready to sail, said the ship owner Haihang Group Corp. Hainan Harbor and Shipping Holdings Co is building another one.
"The tour prices will be relatively high due to the high costs of tourism infrastructure construction," said Huang Huaru, general manager of a tourism agency in Hainan.
However, experts said Sansha could only receive a small number of visitors due to the fragile environment there.
The founding of Sansha City will improve China's management of the region and help coordinate efforts to develop the islands and protect the marine environment, said Zhao Zhongshe, director of the Hainan Provincial Department of Ocean and Fisheries.
Local authorities will build more supply ships, ports as well as water supply and sewage treatment facilities to improve infrastructure in Sansha.
Meanwhile, authorities will also beef up ecological protection to protect island and marine resources and preserve the local biodiversity, Tan said.
SOURCE: Shanghai Daily
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