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Hainan steps up efforts to help tourists go home

By Chen Bowen in Haikou | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-19


Passengers complete check-in procedures at Haikou Meilan International Airport in Hainan province on Sunday. [Photo by Yuan Jingzhi/For China Daily]

The mass congestion tourists experienced when they left the island province of Hainan at the end of the eight-day Spring Festival holiday attracted widespread attention.

In response to the surge in demand, the provincial government ramped up the number of flights and ferries, and also improved overall services to accommodate the influx of passengers.

As of Saturday, tickets to major domestic destination cities were largely sold out, with only expensive tickets available, such as those for business class.

A traveler surnamed Zhao and her 7-year-old son planned to return to their hometown in Jilin province from Haikou on Friday. However, the price of an air ticket from Haikou to Changchun soared to over 10,000 yuan ($1,390) from Thursday to Saturday. So they decided to cross the Qiongzhou Strait from Haikou's Xiuying Port via ferry at 9:30 am on Saturday.

Upon their arrival at Hai'an Port in Xuwen county, Guangdong province, they took a bus to Zhanjiang West Railway Station, and then arrived at Guangzhou South Railway Station at 11:25 pm.

Their journey continued on Sunday, and they faced spending 41 hours in trains, including regular-and high-speed trains to reach Changbai Mountain, their destination, on Monday. "Our unconventional travel has extended time and added multiple transfer challenges, but it can save us a lot of money," Zhao said.

In response to the growing number of travelers, airports and airlines have been working hard to boost their transport capacity.

From Sunday to Saturday, the three major airports in Hainan — Haikou Meilan International Airport, Sanya Phoenix International Airport and Qionghai Boao Airport — saw 194 flights added, which led to the addition of 32,965 seats, according to data provided by Hainan Airport Group on Saturday.

The demand for leaving the island via ferry also remains high, with the reservation rate for passenger cars approaching 100 percent, Li Zhongbiao, deputy secretary-general of the Haikou city government, told a news conference on Sunday afternoon.

From Tuesday to Saturday, the island's ferry transport reached a peak of over 20,000 vehicles a day. By noon on Sunday, 17,200 off-island cars had been booked, with around 7,900 having already been transported off the island, and roughly 9,300 scheduled to leave throughout the day.

From Feb 5, Haikou's Xinhai Port introduced a new ferry service at 4:30 pm each day for new energy vehicles departing the island. Each ferry can transport up to 18 new energy vehicles.

But to sidestep the arduous task of purchasing tickets and queuing up for long hours to cross the strait, some new energy vehicle owners have resorted to leaving their cars in Hainan with plans to pick them up or arrange for trailers to transport them after the holiday, the Lanjinger.com news website reported.

The authorities have advised passenger car owners to travel during off-peak times and offered additional options for passengers to leave via trains or ferries, with their vehicles to be transported by rail or land and subsequently ferried across the Strait.

Hainan, a hot travel destination, witnessed a 48.8 percent year-on-year surge in Spring Festival tourists, according to the Hainan Provincial Department of Culture, Radio, Film, Television, Publications and Sports.

Nearly 2.3 billion trips were made nationwide during the eight-day Spring Festival holiday, which ended on Saturday, with multiple record highs set, the Ministry of Transport said on Sunday. From Feb 10 to Saturday, 2.29 billion trips were made across the country, including 99.46 million passenger trips on trains.