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Hainan Special: Ecology key to island's success

By An Baijie and Liu Xiaoli (China Daily)

Updated: 2015-03-12 07:28:37


South China's island province Hainan has become an ideal place for health-conscious tourists, according to a senior official.

Luo Baoming, secretary of the Communist Party of China Hainan provincial committee, invited people around the world to travel to the island, which boasts cleaner air than most of China.

"Please come to Hainan to take a deep breath and swim in the sea during the winter," he told reporters.

Luo made the remarks during the annual session of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, on March 6. Luo, a deputy to the NPC, said that the provincial government plans to plant 200,000 mu (13,333 hectares) of trees this year to improve the island's forestry coverage, which was 61.5 percent last year. Data released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection showed that from 74 cities monitored in 2014, Haikou, the capital of Hainan, had the best air quality for the past six years. Statistics from the local tourism authority showed that 40.6 million travelers visited Hainan last year, which marked a year-on-year increase of 10.6 percent. The warm weather and clean air has made the island a popular winter destination for many Chinese travelers.

"Tens of millions of tourists come to Hainan every year because of the island's excellent ecological environment," Luo said. "Hainan relies a lot on tourism and we should not destroy our brand image." To maintain air quality the local government has strictly controlled industrial development and made ecological protection a top priority, he added. According to Hainan's government work report, 43 sewage plants, 22 garbage disposal facilities and 154 waste transit stations were built last year. The government also unlicensed 36,700 cars with heavy pollutant emissions in 2014. Hainan has taken a lead role in environmental protection for more than a decade. In 1997, the provincial people's congress set the country's first ecological protection regulation. The local government welcomes industries with low emissions, low energy consumption and high value, which are also the requirements needed to establish an ecological civilization, Luo said. "Ecology is a key interest of Hainan and is worth cherishing," he said and added that it was the obligation of local authorities to protect the island.

Contact the writers at anbaijie@chinadaily.com.cn and liuxiaoli@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 03/12/2015 page5)