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More seniors head for Hainan in winter(2)

2015-02-19 08:44 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

"My husband coughed a lot in my hometown and I have a heart disease. Now that we've stayed in Sanya for a month, he does not cough anymore and I'm in a good mood every day," Wu says. "We plan to return to our hometown in May, and come to Sanya to spend winter every year."

Hundreds of thousands of seniors from other provinces flock to Hainan to spend winter and the Spring Festival every year.

Sanya is the most popular destination, with the number of the elderly visitors hitting 300,000 annually, according to the Office of Sanya Committee on Aging.

These migratory elderly people have come to Hainan in winter to escape the smog and the cold. Sanya, which boasts a warm, friendly and relaxed environment, is a magnet, says Chen Limin, an official with the Sanya association of the elderly people.

Elderly folks who spend the winter in Hainan every year either buy an apartment, rent a house or book a room in nursing homes.

Wu Guizhi, for example, rents a single room in Sanya for 800 yuan ($128) a month. She is considering buying an apartment in the future.

The care homes in Sanya are sometimes fully occupied during winter, says An Honglian, a manager with a local nursing home in the beach town. The rent for one room in the nursing home where An works is 2,500 yuan a month.

The nursing home with 150 beds sees its occupancy rate peak in winter, sometimes 100 percent, An says. In summer, occupancy rate can be as low as three percent.

Not all locals are happy with the swarm of elderly people who "invade" their province every winter. Chen Lihua, a Sanya resident, for one, is not pleased that the aged folks take up public resources and often cause inconveniences to the locals.

Many people in the city take the bus to get to work or to school. With the influx of elderly people, the buses can get crowded.

"Some young people just decide to stand on buses, because there are just too many of them, Chen says.

Ma Kang, a Hainan native who has lived in Sanya for 12 years, says locals who go to the markets late during Spring Festival will not find any vegetables left.

"The elderly people from other provinces would have bought them all up," he complains.

But what irks him most is that some of these old people leave their trash indiscriminately on the beaches on Sanya.

"I suggest that these migratory elderly folks learn to cherish the resources of the place so as to enjoy the life here," he says.

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