A city's top official emphasized the importance of immigrants to the development of Sanya, a tourist city, and called for tolerance between people from different regions.


Addressing the pressure the population surge brings to the tropical coastal city in winter, Li Boqing, deputy mayor of Sanya in South China's Hainan province, said, "If immigrants left the city, Sanya would become a ghost town overnight", www.thepaper.cn reported on Sunday.


A demographic report from the Sanya statistics bureau indicates that as of November, 2010, the resident population reached 685,000. Some 200,100 people moved to the city as permanent residents, of which 176,600 are between the age of 15 to 64, accounting for 88.26 percent of immigrants.


The report concludes that huge influx of immigrants has greatly increased the labor force since 2000. As a result, Sanya has developed from a small fishing village to an international tourist city.


Official figures show that from 2000 to 2013, the gross domestic product of Sanya city grew more than ten times from 3.35 billion yuan ($ 546 million) to 37.35 billion yuan.


Over the past decade, migratory residents and investors have become a powerful driving force behind the development of Sanya, Li pointed out.


Sanya boasts good air quality and a favorable climate, with an annual average temperature of 23.8 degrees. As winter approcahes, chilly weather and heavy smog shrouding northern China drives local residents, especially seniors, south.


Statistics show the number of migratory seniors in Sanya is approaching 400,000, about half of whom are from northeastern China's Harbin city.


For a city with a population of 685,000, the sudden population boom, though a boost to the local economy, poses a big challenge to the limited infrastructure and the indigenous culture.


The population boom and cultural amalgamation that Sanya encounters is just the tip of the iceberg of the larger cross-regional amalgamation underway in China, Li said.


The amalgamation, through it may sometimes give rise to conflict, is benign and should be tolerated, he added.