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Traffic jams while on vacation

High speed train railroad construction near Sanya, China, Goulard SébastienThe once isolated island of Hainan has become a successful tourist destination, attracting millions of Chinese visitors every year.

The island is well connected to the mainland thanks to two airports, one in Haikou, the provincial capital, and the other in Sanya, the main tourist spot of the province. A third one will be inaugurated in 2015.
A train ferry also links Hainan to Guangdong across the Qiongzhou strait, making it possible for visitors from Beijing to get to the sunny province by train.

Within the province, most of the attractions of the Eastern coast can be reached by a high speed train. Another line will be in operation by the end of 2015. It has never been easy to travel to Hainan, but in spite of these new and efficient transport facilities, many visitors prefer to go to Hainan by car (using ferries).

As a result, during the last Chinese New Year Holiday, the city of Sanya was overwhelmed by traffic jams. Visitors who came to enjoy beaches, sun and unpolluted air, had to endure heavy congestion instead .

Some measures have been taken by the municipal authorities of Sanya to ease traffic in the city. One is to take better control of the car-rental market. Car rental is a fairly new phenomenon in China. In Hainan, professional car rentals companies, hotels, and even car dealers are involved in this business. Another is to develop more road infrastructures to prevent congestion, and a third one is to give incentives to visitors to use public transport.

Nevertheless, this issue is likely to continue in the future as Hainan is expected to host more visitors annually. To reduce traffic congestion, tourism activities in Hainan need to be less concentrated in Sanya. More attractions need to be promoted on the entire island.

Another point regards China’s public holiday system. The whole tourist industry, and not only in Hainan, would benefit greatly if the Chinese got more holidays, with more flexible dates.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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