Hainan Coastal Scenic Highway, a highway loop connecting 216 famous historic and cultural sites, 31 scenic areas, and 20 resorts across 12 coastal cities and counties in south China’s island province of Hainan, has unlocked new tourism experiences and immense economic opportunities.
Opened on Dec. 18, 2023, the highway has already attracted many tourists looking for splendid coastal sceneries and new tourism experiences, and a multitude of travel strategies for road trips along the highway has been widely spread on the internet.
This aerial photo taken on Dec. 26, 2023 shows the scenery of Mulan Bay along the Hainan coastal highway for sightseeing in Wenchang, south China’s Hainan Province. (Xinhua/Pu Xiaoxu)
Featured, fully-equipped tourist complexes, cycling, and recreational vehicle (RV) camping along the route have gained increasing popularity among tourists.
“You’ve got to visit these stations if you will take a road trip along the Hainan Coastal Scenic Highway. You not only enjoy beautiful sceneries but also experience special local cultures and activities here,” Xing Xiafei, a tourist from east China’s Zhejiang province, wrote on a social media platform, sharing her travel experience with internet users.
The stations Xing referred to are integrated tourist complexes along the highway. They provide comprehensive facilities and services satisfying the tourists’ needs for accommodations, recreation, and sightseeing.
At Yinggetalang, one of the complexes located in Huangliu township, Ledong Li autonomous county, Hainan province, visitors can experience the traditional salt-making techniques of Yinggehai township, Ledong Li autonomous county, and enjoy the splendid view of salt pans.
“This station integrates local natural landscapes and cultural characteristics. It’s a tourist attraction in itself,” said a tourist surnamed Yu.
“Yinggetalang features the cultures of salt-making techniques, the Li ethnic group, and the local fishery industry. It helps tourists enjoy breathtaking natural sceneries and characteristic folk customs of the Li people, while allowing them to get an in-depth understanding of the charm of Yinggehai’s salt-making techniques, an item on the list of intangible cultural heritage,” said Gao Miao, planning manager of Yinggetalang.
Gao has seen a significant increase in the tourist flow of the complex since the opening of the scenic highway.
Two other tourist complexes that opened around the same time as Yinggetalang are also seeing steady streams of visitors.
Dan’erzhuiguang, a tourist complex in Danzhou city, Hainan province, offers accommodation services and allows visitors to enjoy interesting experiences such as collecting duck eggs, digging sandworms, feeding Babylonia lutosa, a species of sea snails, and making fishing nets.
The other complex, which features volcano-related elements, connects multiple sightseeing platforms and scenic spots, including a volcanic geopark.
Besides sightseeing, bicycle tours and RV camping, among other activities, are also becoming popular ways to enjoy the route.
In the Danzhou section of the highway, more than 60 motorcyclists were seen riding along the road at the same time. In the section of the highway along Haiwei township, Changjiang Li autonomous county, Hainan province, tourists often camp out in small groups on the shore under canopies.
The scenic highway represents an innovative move of Hainan’s tourism sector, opening a door to high-quality development for the sector, said Chen Yao, president of the Hainan Tourism Development Research Institute.
The new highway has also brought about new business opportunities and employment opportunities for the locals.
Data shows that the island has seen a surge in road trips, which has resulted in a month-on-month growth of over 50 percent in car rental orders in Sanya and Haikou, two cities in Hainan that are ranked among the top three in Chinese cities popular among road trip enthusiasts during this year’s New Year holiday.
This aerial photo taken on June 25, 2023 shows the scenery along the Hainan coastal highway for sightseeing in Chengmai, south China’s Hainan Province. (Xinhua/Pu Xiaoxu)
More business forms are emerging in the locality, such as surf riding experience services, photography services for soon-to-be newlyweds, and bubble tea shops.
As a result, locals along the route have enjoyed more chances for employment and entrepreneurship.
Dan’erzhuiguang has provided more than 30 jobs to nearby villagers, according to Ge Yongqi, general manager of Hainan Tourism Investment and Development Co., Ltd., which is the developer of the complex.
The company has also set up special zones for the exhibition and sale of agricultural products in the complex to promote the sales of local specialties, and agricultural and sideline products from Danzhou, Ge noted.
“Hainan Coastal Scenic Highway has revitalized all the tourism resources along the western coast of Hainan. Now, my B&B hotel is seeing even better business,” said Chen Maosheng, a young entrepreneur who runs a B&B hotel along the highway in Lingao county, Hainan province.
According to Chen, all the rooms in his hotel are booked for the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.
More locals are ready to open B&B hotels and restaurants, and study tours will also be launched to satisfy the diverse needs of tourists, said an official of a village in Lingao county.
The burgeoning tourism industry has also motivated local people who used to work as migrant workers in more developed cities to return to their hometowns.
Wang Jinxia, a villager of Dongying township, Lingao county, is one of the migrant workers who has returned for new opportunities in the tourism industry. She now works in a newly opened food court near her home.
Local authorities will make more efforts to continuously enrich the tourism elements of coastal townships and promote the transformation and upgrading of the fishery industry while facilitating the transition of fisherfolk to other industries and occupations, according to Wang Kaibo, head of the bureau of tourism, culture, radio, television, and sports of Lingao county.
The county aims to foster a distinctive tourism atmosphere at the Lingao section of the Hainan Coastal Scenic Highway to increase the income of people living in areas along the route, Wang said.
Hainan province is also endeavoring to create major highlights of the tourism ecosystem emerging along the highway by connecting existing tourism products and resources along the route, thus making the most of the new highway’s appeal.
“Scenic highway tourists only see rudimentary Version 1.0 of the highway. We will continuously improve and upgrade it,” said Huang Peng, chief engineer of the transport department of Hainan province.
The highway is already equipped with comprehensive infrastructure facilities, according to Huang.
“We have planned a total of 70 sightseeing platforms and parking areas along the highway. So far, all the 45 sightseeing platforms have been open to tourists, 21 parking areas have been put into service, and the construction of the remaining four parking areas is in full swing,” Huang said.
(Web editor: Chang Sha, Du Mingming)