File photo: Xinhua
HAIKOU, May 5 (Xinhua) -- With the coronavirus outbreak steadily receding in China, the country's resort island Hainan, hopes the development of sports tourism will become a new economic growth point as the island province opens its arms to tourists again.
During the May Day holidays, Lei Wen and his girlfriend traveled from north China's Shandong province and learned how to sail to sea at Shimei Bay in the Hainan city of Wanning.
Under an instructor's guidance, they learned to control the direction and speed of the sailboat. After an hour's sea voyage, they arrived at an uninhabited island. The seawater is crystal clear around the island and they used the area to experience diving in open water.
"Thanks to the protection of the natural environment, coral reefs are so beautiful here," said Lei at the sight of the sea.
"Sailing is an environmentally-friendly tourism activity, not only let tourists experience how to sail, but also enjoy the wonderful sea scenery," said Chen Qiuyu, manager of a sailing company.
Hainan aims to build a sports tourism demonstration zone covering the whole island by 2025, according to a plan released by the provincial government in April.
"Hainan chooses sports tourism as its development direction, because of the advantages of visa-free entry policies and the unique island natural resources surrounded by ocean," said Xu Xianghong, an official from Hainan's sports bureau.
"Efforts will be made to develop ocean sports, such as surfing, sailing, diving, sea fishing, yacht, dragon boat," he added.
Shi Yong, a professor of Shanghai University of Sport, believes that China's sports tourism market has huge potential, as people's awareness of staying fit will definitely rise in the wake of the pandemic.
"After the epidemic, the proportion of sports tourism in the tourism will increase, with an estimated year-on-year growth rate of 10%, and the total revenue of sports tourism is expected to reach 1.6 trillion yuan (about 230 billion U.S. dollars) by the end of 2021," he said.