Tourists on Monday disembark Resorts World One, the first cruise ship to arrive from outside the Chinese mainland since China announced a full resumption of international cruises earlier this month, in Sanya, Hainan province. (Photo by Wang Chenglong/For China Daily)
After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cruise ship Resorts World One, with more than 1,800 passengers aboard, arrived at Sanya Phoenix Island International Cruise Port in Hainan province on Monday, after departing from Hong Kong two days earlier.
The domestic arrival coincided with the Ministry of Transport's announcement of the full resumption of the country's ports to international cruise traffic on Sept 19.
Resorts World One will operate its winter route between Hong Kong and Sanya until April, making a total of 32 journeys.
Passengers on the inaugural cruise consisted of travel industry representatives from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, Taiwan and foreign countries, as well as international tourists from the 59 countries eligible for visa-free entry to Hainan.
"The cruise travel experience is more comfortable and there are many recreational activities during the journey," said a passenger surnamed Lau from Hong Kong. It was her first cruise to Sanya and she planned to visit the Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone and the Tianya Haijiao Tourist Area.
Hong Kong is an important tourism market for Sanya, with Sanya's hotels accommodating 906,000 guests in 2019, including 71,000 from the special administrative region.
From January to August, Sanya hotels saw a 33.6 percent increase in guests from Hong Kong compared with the same period last year, according to Sanya Tourism Board.
The resumption of the cruise route not only provides a new travel choice for tourists to Sanya, but also promotes the synergetic collaboration of Sanya and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, according to the board.
"Sanya and Hong Kong are working with the strongest desire and strength to build a bridge for deepening economic, trade, cultural and tourism exchanges and cooperation," said a representative from the board.
"We are committed to creating a high-quality cooperation environment, sharing new opportunities in the construction of Hainan Free Trade Port and opening up new exchanges and cooperation in various fields."
There will be more support from the government to accelerate turning Sanya into a pilot cruise tourism zone, and by 2030 Sanya will have built a modern international cruise port integrating functions such as cruise tourism, duty-free shopping, high-end commerce, culture and leisure, becoming an important international cruise tourism consumption center, according to Sanya Central Business District.