COVID lockdown turns Chinese tourist hotspot Sanya into nightmare for stranded tourists

COVID lockdown turns Chinese tourist hotspot Sanya into nightmare for stranded tourists
Written by admin

People are seen near restaurants in Houhai village in Sanya, Hainan province, China. 26 November 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

Register now for FREE unlimited access to

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, August 7 (Reuters) – Chinese businesswoman Yang Jing, planning her summer vacation this year in 2021, chose the southern tropical island of Hainan due to the near-perfect record of COVID.

The island in the South China Sea recorded only two positive symptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the entire last year. Fast forward to this month, however, and the number of cases has skyrocketed, sparking a lockdown in the city of Sanya and leaving tens of thousands of tourists like Yang stranded on the island.

Sanya, the island’s main tourist destination, imposed a curfew on Saturday and restricted transport links to curb the outbreak, as nearly 80,000 visitors enjoyed its beaches during peak season. Many were stranded in hotels until next Saturday, if not longer. Read more

Register now for FREE unlimited access to

Yang stays with her husband and child in a four-star hotel paid out of her own pocket. The family eats noodles every day to avoid wasting more food.

“This is the worst vacation of my life,” Yang, 40, who lives in southern China’s Jiangxi province, told Reuters on Sunday.

Sanya reported 689 symptomatic and 282 asymptomatic cases between August. Other cities around Hainan province, including Danzhou, Dongfang, Lingshui, and Lingao, all reported more than a dozen cases during the same period.

On Saturday, state broadcaster CCTV reported that the sale of train tickets from Sanya was suspended, citing the national operator, and more than 80% of flights to and from Sanya were canceled, according to data provider Variflight.

Hainan has been closed to overseas tourists for the past two and a half years since China stopped issuing tourist visas in response to the pandemic and enforced strict quarantine rules.

The Sanya government announced on Saturday that tourists whose flights have been canceled will be able to book hotels for half the price.

But on Sunday, dozens of tourists complained in WeChat groups that their hotels did not enforce such a rule and they still had to pay rates similar to the original prices. The two stranded tourists told Reuters they were in such a situation.

“We are looking for ways to complain and defend our rights, but so far no government agency has contacted or dealt with us,” said one of the tourists, a tourist from eastern China’s Jiangsu province. as the surname Zhou.


A foreign tourist living in China on their honeymoon in Sanya said additional problems for stranded tourists include massive price hikes in food delivery fees, hotel meal prices and airfares from Hainan. Without wanting to be named, he said that the food supplies in his hotel were also running low.

“We just hope it doesn’t turn into another Shanghai,” said the tourist, referring to the city’s recent brutal, two-month lockdown.

The outbreak in Hainan is the latest challenge to China’s zero-COVID policy after the chaotic lockdown in Shanghai decimated the narrative that Beijing’s handling of the pandemic is superior to other countries such as the United States, which has recorded more than one million COVID deaths.

Domestic visitors have kept the tourism industry in Hainan alive throughout most of the pandemic, but this sudden lockdown risks turning some tourists away altogether.

“In short, we will never come back again!” said Zhou, who was on vacation with six other family members.

Sanya officials have said that stranded tourists can leave the island next Saturday, provided they take five COVID tests and have negative results for all of them.

However, Yang said the waiting times for test results were long and he asked him to have multiple tests per day.

“We don’t know who to go to, there is only positive news about Sanya on the internet, for example… The municipality of Sanya duly relocated the 80,000 stranded tourists… as if the whole country thinks we (we) are the beneficiaries, not the victims,” ​​he said.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to

Reporting from Martin Quin Pollard and Eduardo Baptista; Edited by Susan Fenton

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

About the author


Leave a Comment