Our second of three lectures at Sanya University was taught by Professor Yu Yanling and it discussed the topic of Hainan’s tourism goals. We saw a number of promotional videos that showed the beautiful beaches, the ancient artifacts and cultures, as well as the highlights of everyday life in Sanya.
As we discussed in class, Sanya’s climate is tropical, its people are friendly and welcoming, and its beautiful beaches and romantic, laid back atmosphere make it the ideal spot for weddings and honeymoon celebrations. In fact, some of Sanya’s most noteable features are similar to its next door neighbor, Vietnam. So why is Sanya not a popular international tourist destination?
Walking around Sanya and observing the people visiting the same tourist sites that we visited, it was clear that any tourists that visited the area were domestic – in other words, they only were visiting from other parts of China. The number of times that people in our group were asked for photos was evidence enough that international tourism in Sanya is not very high (this did occur in Beijing as well, so the lack of international tourism is not something happening only in Sanya.)
However, it is very easy to see why a place like Beijing might attract international travelers. As a capital city, it is obviously one of the most well known to people outside China, along with cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. Beijing also is home to one of the most incredible architectural and human achievements in the world: the Great Wall.
As an aspiring tourist destination, it is important that the people working (and even just living) in Sanya are multi-lingual. A city/state/province/island cannot be an international tourist destination if it cannot communicate with its tourists. While I do feel that it is important for travelers to attempt to familiarize themselves with the language(s) of the places to which they are traveling, it is just as important that the destination itself makes an attempt to learn common world languages in the hopes that it can attract others.
Sanya is a beautiful city with wonderful people, and I firmly believe that those who do not visit will miss out on a truly enriching experience.