In a continued effort to boost interest from foreign visitors, the local government of Hainan is easing access to social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram at the resort island.
The new shift in policy will allow for foreign visitors to Hainan access to popular social media sites blocked by China's "great firewall," which restricts not just Facebook and YouTube, but news sites such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
According to a document by Hainan's provincial government for its three-year plan to increase international tourism to the island, visitors to the island will be able to access the social media sites in designated areas at two of Hainan's largest cities - Sanya and Haikou. The designated areas have been deemed by the provincial government as areas where tourists gather.
“Within the two important tourist cities of Haikou and Sanya, we have a plan to build a foreign tourism zone based on the development experiences of Bangkok, Spain’s Majorca and other cities,” the document read. “Within those zones, foreigners will be able to use as normal popular overseas services such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”
Located off China's southern coast in the South China Sea, Hainan has been a popular tourist destination in China mostly from visitors from the mainland. Known as "China's Hawaii", the local and central government has increased its efforts to make the island a viable tourist destination for foreign visitors. It was reported in May that the Chinese government would grant visa-free access for independent travellers from 59 different countries.
Other actions the local government is taking is recruiting up to 50,000 foreign workers from nearby countries - such Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Nepal - with English language skills to not only boost communication with foreign visitors, but to improve relations with its regional neighbors. Also, the provincial government is looking to increase international flights, and develop a sports lottery industry for events such as e golf, yacht racing, marathons, boxing, E-sports, tennis, motorsports and horse racing.