China / Society

An island life

By Deng Xiaogang (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-16 07:59

On learning from Hawaii

Because Hawaii and Hainan have the same latitude, the weather and landscapes are very similar. I visited Hawaii in 2008, and was impressed by the local tourism industry - we can learn a lot from what they've done.

In addition to its famous mountains and beaches, Hawaii also features world-class support facilities for tourism, including shopping malls, travel agencies and parks. I made a trip to a local cultural center, which was fun and educational, because it provided an introduction to Hawaiian culture.

Visitors were able to experience the local lifestyle by paddling a canoe, chanting, and even opening a coconut by hand. I also visited the Volcanoes National Park on "the Big Island". Haikou has a volcano too, but the park in Hawaii is better protected and more fully developed. The success of Hawaii's tourism industry tells us a simple truth: Environmental protection doesn't mean we have to keep the public out of nature reserves. On the contrary, we need to protect and develop them at the same time.

I was just taking charge of our tourism industry when I made the trip, and learned a lot from it. Many commercials call Hainan "Hawaii of the east", but Hainan is not and never will be another Hawaii. We have our own unique culture and history; that's a special gift for us.

We are currently repairing an old street featuring hundreds of old-style buildings, and we hope it will become a popular spot for tourists.

On Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Hainan

Dongzhaigang Park wasn't the only place to gain a little bit of fame during Premier Li's visit. He also visited a local grocery store and paid 19 yuan ($3) for a box of desiccated coconut meat and a box of coconut cream rolls. They are special local products and are very popular holiday souvenirs.

A framed photo of the premier buying the snacks hangs on the front door of the store, and the owner quickly devised a "Premier Package", a specially designed bag containing the two products Li bought. The bags bear the legend "Premier Li Keqiang visited our store". The package costs 19 yuan, the same amount Li spent.

A sales assistant told me that the store sells more than 300 of these packages every day. They've certainly boosted business - before Li's visit, the store was lucky to sell 10 boxes of the snacks in a day.

According to a report by Xinhua News Agency, the trip to the store was a random visit, and wasn't on the official itinerary. However, having inspected local industry and the commercial administration, the premier noticed a banner on the front door of the store that reads "We never sell fake products".

The premier walked in and asked the assistant if the store always honors the pledge on the banner, before telling the sales assistants, "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I need to buy something." That single visit has brought the storeowner a great deal more than the small sum Li paid for his purchases!

Deng Xiaogang spoke with Peng Yining.

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