Covid outbreak traps almost 100,000 tourists in Chinese resort

Some visitors say they will ‘never’ return, citing fears the island could see a Shanghai-style lockdown

Lamiat Sabin
Monday 08 August 2022 10:33 BST

Related: China’s economy takes a hit from Covid-19 lockdowns

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Almost 100,000 tourists are expecting to remain stranded on the island of Hainan in southern China for at least a week after authorities imposed a Covid lockdown.

Hainan, in the South China Sea, went into lockdown on Saturday. The tourists, largely from other parts of the country, are unable to leave and expect to be stuck in hotels.

The sale of train tickets to mainland China are suspended – according to state broadcaster CCTV – and data from Variflight shows that 80 per cent of flights to and from the island’s capital Sanya are cancelled.

Many people had believed that the island was a safe choice for their holiday as it had only recorded two positive symptomatic Covid cases in the whole of 2021 after strict quarantine rules and curbs on tourism since the beginning of the pandemic.

But, in the first week of this month, the number of cases has rocketed to more than 1,000 and tourists are expecting to be stuck on the island until at least the weekend.

Sanya reported 689 symptomatic and 282 asymptomatic cases. Other cities around Hainan province – including Danzhou, Dongfang, Lingshui, and Lingao – have all reported over a dozen cases during the same period.

Meanwhile, the whole of China recorded a total of 1,376 symptomatic cases and 2,508 asymptomatic cases between 1 and 7 August – according to data from Worldometer.

On Saturday, on the first day of the Hainan lockdown, Sanya’s government pledged that tourists who had their flights cancelled would be able to book hotel rooms at half price.

But dozens of tourists on Sunday complained on the WeChat social platform that their hotel rates were not being discounted.

Businesswoman Yang Jing has been staying at a four-star hotel with her husband and child, and they are having to live off instant noodles to limit their spending.

The 40-year-old from the Jiangxi province in southern China told Reuters: “This is the worst holiday of my life.”

A foreign tourist, who lives in China, was on honeymoon in Sanya. He said stranded tourists are having to pay higher prices for food delivery fees and hotel meals, while food supplies at his hotel were running low.

“We just hope it won’t turn into another Shanghai,” he added, referring to the city’s two-month-long lockdown imposed on 1 April.

Another tourist, a woman from the eastern province of Jiangsu, who only gave her surname Zhou, was on holiday with six of her relatives. She told Reuters that they will “never come back”.

She also told the news agency: “We are now looking for ways to complain and defend our rights, but so far no official body has contacted us or taken any interest in us.”

Authorities in Sanya have said that stranded tourists can leave from Saturday, provided they show five negative Covid test results each.

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