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The government of Haikou, one of China's most scenic cities, plans to make it a premier locale for living and tourism. Huang Yiming / China Daily
For many people who suffered through the heavy smog and haze in Beijing and several other cities in northern China this winter, escaping such desperate conditions was a common wish during the Spring Festival holiday.
Famed tourist province Hainan was clearly an appealing destination due to its friendly ecological environment.
Statistics from the province's tourism administration show the tropical island received a record 1.9 million tourists during the seven-day holiday that generated revenues of 4.36 billion yuan ($701 million) in Sanya alone, up more than 31 percent over the last year.
And they could find clear skies and clean air there. According to China News Service, the province had nearly 354 days in 2012 that reached the top standards for urban air quality in China. The provincial capital Haikou has recorded high quality air every day for 23 consecutive years, said the report.
Early in 1999, the provincial government was already stressing the need to protect the environment, then proposed a national demonstration area for ecological civilization 10 years later.
At last year's 18th national Party congress, Luo Baoming, the province's Party chief, again highlighted the province's appealing environment and favorable natural conditions, saying they are the core resources for Hainan's future.
Protection of the resources has always been a priority in the government's work, he noted.
In 2007, Hainan authorities began efforts to add even more greenery across the province. They have added 2.58 million mu (172,000 hectares) of new forests in five years, making the forest coverage rate up 4.4 percent.
They also built more facilities to collect and treat sewage and rubbish in both urban and rural areas while improving the existing operations.
Most of the island's rivers and lakes, as well as offshore seawater, have been protected from pollution for several years.
The Party chief also started a new ecological campaign in 2012 to step up the province's green development.
A series of ecology projects - including 10 forest parks, 23 downtown parks and 77 sightseeing orchards - are under development and will be finished on schedule, said the official.
In addition, government of Ding'an county in the province built the first eco-museum to preserve local culture, where visitors can view some local heritage and traditional handicrafts.
The ecological improvements in Hainan have paid dividends.
In a report jointly released by the State Statistics Bureau and Beijing Normal University, Hainan ranked among the top four nationwide in terms of the green development in 2012.
Green progress needs strong support from industry, said Luo.
The government last year started to vigorously reinforce the development of green industries with low emissions but high added value, technologies and environmental thresholds.
It developed pollution-free agricultural production sites covering a combined 3,000 hectares as well as seven demonstration plants for aquatic products.
Governor Jiang Dingzhi said at the annual session of the provincial People's Congress held on Jan 27 that the provincial government has invested nearly 1.5 billion yuan for ecological development, and will continue to do more to accelerate the eco-civilization in the province.
Tian Yinan contributed to the story.
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(China Daily 03/15/2013 page16)