Great escape: adventurous visitors discover exotic attractions as Sanya adapts tourism to changing tastes
The city is known for its Miss World Pageants, weddings, splendid beaches and hotels. Now it is offering fabulous trips for younger, more adventurous travellers
The beauty and splendour of Sanya is well-known throughout China. For years, Sanya has been synonymous with “vacation” and a well-deserved respite from the long work weeks most Chinese endure throughout the rest of the year.
Sanya has something to offer for couples on their honeymoon; extended clans on their annual trip; individuals seeking adventure; or businessmen seeking the perfect atmosphere for their end-of-year meeting.
The tasks today are about maintaining the balance between continued growth and the environment, and understanding the changing tastes of the average domestic and foreign visitor.
An important part of addressing the former issue is the year-long study on the ecological capital of the city of Sanya, undertaken by the DeTao Institute of Green Investment in cooperation with Sanya’s government.
Major outreach campaigns via news media and international social media platforms are also ways to address the latter, with feedback from those campaigns informing how Sanya views the needs of people who have been to Sanya before, or may one day choose to visit.
These efforts also help explain the ever-diversifying nature of Sanya’s tourism options. The established favourites of Sanya Bay, Dadonghai and Yalong Bay will always be popular and have been resilient favourites over the years.
The major hotel brands that have built presences in Sanya and along newer developments, such as Haitang Bay, also have their constant flow of people.
Also, famous locations such as Tianya Haijiao, a beach to the west of Sanya known as “the edge of the known world” and a favourite spot for couples, are constantly reviewed for their ability to cater to visitors efficiently.
Then there are the newer attractions, such as the Yadong Tropical Forest to the north, the parks and gardens of Haitang Bay to the east, and the coral reefs around the islands of Xidao and Dongdao off the southwestern coast. Each of these locations attracts different types of people, and with varying ideas of what “vacation” means, and how to enjoy it.
Another great example of Sanya’s development as a multifarious tourism destination is the Nanshan Temple Complex, completed in 1998 on the site of ancient Tang dynasty Buddhist remains. Long before Sanya grew famous for Miss World Pageants, splendid beaches and hotels, and international yacht races, Nanshan was a renowned Buddhist retreat. Monks contemplated the vastness of the universe from the Seawatch Terrace, at the edge of Chinese civilisation.
Today, this scenic site is open to the public, with its Tang dynasty relics, Buddhist sculpture – most notably the gold and silver, diamond-studded Guanyin statue.
Long considered a destination for only families and couples, Sanya now draws single, young adventurous types to head east up to Shimei, to surf and explore a more rugged, remote coastline; or trek into the tropical forests and mountains of the interior and spend time with the Li minority people.
Those visitors seeking the cultural and historical treasures can go to Nanshan, while those who love the sea can visit the beaches and reefs of Wuzhizhou.
The more Sanya diversifies, the more certain is the prosperous future for the city.