Tourists enjoy themselves at Dadonghai Scenic Area in Sanya City, south China’s Hainan Province, Oct. 6, 2020. Photo: Xinhua
Faced with 80,000 tourists stranded under static management due to the recent outbreak, the southern Chinese city of Sanya announced hotel concessions on Saturday to ease their financial burden.
The “Hawaii of China” announced the activation of temporary static management from Saturday morning to contain the spread of COVID-19. In addition to ensuring basic social functioning services, epidemic prevention and control, and emergency situations, movement will be restricted, while all public transport is suspended.
Sanya hotels will offer a 50% discount to staying guests, who can leave the island after a seven-day risk assessment, the city official said at a Saturday afternoon press briefing. Tourism-related authorities, industry associations and companies have also set up task forces to handle the cancellation of orders due to the outbreak.
At present, around 80,000 tourists are stranded in Sanya, the majority of whom are in low-risk Sanya Bay and Yalong Bay, according to He Shigang, the city’s deputy mayor. To prevent the spread of the virus in areas with high tourist concentrations, the city requires a 24-hour nucleic acid test result to enter these areas.
South China’s Hainan Province reported 262 new cases on Friday, including 229 confirmed cases in Sanya, according to the local health commission. Sanya reported 129 positive cases as of midday Saturday. From Monday to 12 p.m. Saturday, the city reported 558 cases.
Railway authorities have banned all ticket sales in Sanya and residents cannot leave Sanya by train.
All flights out of Sanya are to be canceled on Saturday, and some flights to Sanya were turned around en route, according to Yicai.com. Passengers stranded at Sanya airport will be transferred to hotels in the city for follow-up.
Data from information provider VariFlight showed that Sanya Phoenix International Airport canceled the majority, or 164, of flights on Saturday morning.
Airline ticket prices from Sanya have skyrocketed. For flights from Sanya to Shanghai, economy class tickets sell for around 3,000 yuan ($443), while business class costs around $15,000.
A tourist who arrived in Sanya and checked into a low-risk hotel in Haitang Bay on Wednesday told the Global Times on Saturday that she had booked plane tickets for the Sunday flight, but due to the concerns about transportation conditions under static management, she changed to buy tickets departing from Haikou Airport to Nanjing on Saturday. At press time, his family had left Sanya for Haikou airport.
Since the cluster outbreak in Sanya has already spread to Hainan Province, other cities and regions in the province have also announced measures to curb the spread of the virus. Some districts in Danzhou City and Lingshui Li Autonomous County went into static management on Saturday, while Qionghai City suspended business activities at indoor venues from Saturday.
The virus strain was identified as the Omicron BA5.1.3 variant, which was first reported nationwide with hidden and strong transmission, the local health commission said.
The central fishing port of Yazhou district was the source of the outbreak from Monday, which was likely imported through trade with foreign fishermen, according to local authorities.