An expected surge in young visitors may usher in the best year for tourism in Sanya, a prominent resort city in Hainan province, said Albert Yip, director-general of the Sanya Tourism Promotion Board.
Passenger arrivals at Sanya airport have increased 10 percent to touch 10.89 million as of June 25, compared with the same period in 2019 before the COVID-19 epidemic, data from the board showed.
The occupancy rates for hotels in Sanya exceeded 90 percent last July, but this year the hotel reservations have increased.
"We checked with hotels recently and they have already been booked over 70 percent. The peak period of summer vacation is usually after mid-July, so it means this year's summer vacation may be more popular," Yip said.
From July to August, Sanya has a particularly high proportion of parent-child customers, accounting for over 60 percent of the overall tourists, he added.
Shanghai ranks first nationwide as the source of tourist arrivals to Sanya through flights from April to May, with an average monthly passenger flow of 90,000. The city has also steadily ranked among the top three in recent years.
Yip said more foreign visitors are expected as direct flights resume between Hong Kong and Sanya on July 1.
"Hong Kong will become a great platform to bring more overseas tourists to Sanya. For example, Hong Kong has many high-end Michelin-starred restaurants but lacks resorts like Sanya, which can complement each other," Yip, a Hong Kong native who took over his current post in Sanya in 2021, said.
He pointed out that Sanya is increasingly being favored by younger travelers.
According to data put out by the Sanya Tourism Promotion Board, visitors aged between 18 to 35 account for the highest proportion among all tourist groups that entered Sanya through the airport in 2021 and 2022. In 2021, this group accounted for 42.3 percent of visitors, an increase of nearly 7 percentage points compared to 2019.
The number of passengers aged 18-25 who arrived at the Sanya airport has increased by 21.6 percent month-on-month this year.
Meanwhile, the contribution of the post-90s and post-2000s demographics accounts for 38.1 percent of the total tourism consumption, ranking first among all age groups.
"Travel has become an important part of young people's lives," Yip said. "A short video or a travel note can spark their interest in traveling and they seek a getaway immediately. They pursue individuality, attach importance to experience, and love to share, which also puts higher requirements on the tourism industry."
To cope with such needs, Sanya is actively promoting innovative experiences and events.
"Younger customers love to taste local cuisine, experience outdoor sports, and participate in music festivals," said Ma Nan, senior director of the event planning department of the Sanya tourism board.
"Therefore, we have organized various activities, such as concerts and music or beer festivals, every month.
"Our new stadium, which can accommodate 45,000 people, will be completed in July. It will attract more singers from Taiwan, Hong Kong and other places as well," Ma added.