China’s tourist island province has begun a crackdown on price-gouging by revoking licenses and issuing heavy fines for businesses found to have cheated customers, a move hoped to calm public outrage following a series of scandals, local officials said Thursday.

A seafood restaurant was fined 500,000 yuan (80,000 U.S. dollars) for charging customers 9,764 yuan for a seven-course meal during last month’s Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, said officials with the industry and commerce bureau of the city of Sanya, a tropical tourism destination in China’s southernmost Hainan Province.

The bureau was prompted into action after the restaurant bill was posted on a popular microblogging site, stirring widespread outrage.

Authorities also revoked the license of another seafood restaurant which was found to have deceived customers by exaggerating the names of ordinary seafood items on its menu in order to raise prices.

Over the next ten years, China plans to invest 352 billion yuan in making its southernmost tropical island province of Hainan into a top international tourist destination by 2020.

But critics say that while much of the money is for infrastructure, more needs to be done to improve services, like hospitality, as well as the island’s credibility.

Deputy Mayor of Sanya Zhang Yun said the city has launched an intensive three-month crackdown on price-gouging in the seafood market.

Zhang said authorities have "zero tolerance" for fraud, and will immediately shut down those guilty of fraudulent behavior.

 
 
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