Sanya phoenix island, a scenic man-made tourist attraction in south China, was blockaded, according to a recent People’s Daily report. When visitors approached, security personnel stopped them and said: "Do you know where this is? Leave here as soon as possible. This is not yet open to visitors."

The reason the island is closed is that several seven-star hotel buildings are under construction. Zhang Yunhe, one of the stopped visitors, said, "If we can’t enter now, it will be even harder for us to visit the beach after construction is completed."

Hotels use beaches as private domain

Yalong Bay is honored as "the first bay in the world." However, 17 luxury hotels surround its 8 km beach and act like a wall preventing scenic views of the beach.

The same situation is found in the Hainan’s western coast and Lingshui’s Shimei Bay.

All the hotels are designed in a way that the back door of the lobby opens to the sea, and the beach becomes the hotel’s private domain. Hotel staff set up umbrellas and couches on the beach so the customers can enjoy the sea or rest after swimming. Security personnel are on patrol 24 hours a day to ensure only visitors of the hotel are on the beach. 

Yalong Bay in Sanya, Hainan province
Following the construction of Hainan International Tourism Island, investors have scrambled to buy land along the coastline to erect top quality hotels, residential houses and entertainment places, especially golf courses. Similar situations have also begun in other smaller cities on the island. Increasingly, public resources are given to investors to start construction projects, which can cost up to 10 billion yuan. One local citizen said, "If this continues, it will be harder for us to see these beautiful beaches for free in the future."

Disputes arise and create need for regulation

Debates about Hainan’s hotels taking up beaches and views have become heated.

Zhang Rongjian, a Hainan resident, said, "Those beautiful beaches belong to the public. No one can appropriate them for any reason."

If travelers want to enjoy the beautiful sea, they must live in hotels. Li Quan, a traveler from Nanning, Guangxi, said affording hotels would be difficult for modest-income or low-income travelers and could hurt the development of Hainan tourism.

There are 23 hotels along the high grade coastline. More than 49 5-star hotels and 7-star hotels are being built. Additionally, the construction of nearly 100 golf courses has been proposed.

Some experts pointed out that excessive construction will not only inconvenience tourists’ sightseeing but also pollute and damage the natural environment.

Lawyer Li Junli called for the enactment of laws and regulations at a possible early date. He said that such laws or regulations should make it clear that no department or person can build or develop "private territory" except parks that provide sightseeing for travelers. In addition, Li said it should be clearly defined that all waterfront buildings have the responsibility to maintain, beautify and protect the beaches. 

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