Authorities have punished two restaurants in Hainan for defrauding customers or charging them exorbitant prices.
However, a pundit has expressed doubts over the effectiveness of any crackdown on the island's rapacious seafood markets and restaurants. Regulators in the south coast resort of Sanya revoked the Fulin Fishing Village Seafood Restaurant's business licence and fined the Island Fishing Village Seafood Restaurant close to 500,000 yuan (HK$616,000) this week, Xinhua reported.
Some mainland tourists complained on the internet after their Lunar New Year holidays that the two restaurants had sold them seafood at ridiculously high prices and that they were forced to pay the bills under threat of violence.
The authorities said Fulin had been defrauding customers by using grand names for non-existent seafood such as 'white emperor spiral shellfish' and 'precious pagoda crab'.
The other restaurant was fined for using complicated pricing methods to confuse customers
Sanya's vice-mayor, Zhang Yunsheng, said the city government would launch a three-month campaign targeting tourist traps at seafood markets.
Restaurants that cheated customers or threatened their safety would receive 'zero tolerance' from the government and suffer 'sudden death', he told Xinhua.
However, Professor Ma Bo, director of Qingdao University's school of tourism, said that the government pressure would ease as soon as public attention turned elsewhere.
Temporary measures could not solve the long-term problems of Hainan, Ma said. 'I don't think international tourists will be convinced that there are only a couple of traps on the island,' he said.