China to Open Xisha Islands to Tourism This Year
China plans to let tourists visit the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea this year, according to the vice governor of Hainan province on Tuesday, which administers the group of islands.
"Xisha must be opened for tourism within this year," Tan Li said at a provincial conference addressing tourism on Tuesday.
Tan said that relevant departments are making preparations in accordance with this timetable.
China's State Council in late 2009 announced a guideline to develop the tropical island province of Hainan into a destination for international tourists, and the guideline also outlined that tourism would be promoted on the Xisha Islands.
The Xisha Islands are a cluster of close to 40 islets, sandbanks and reefs.
Earlier this month, a cruise ship owned by the Hainan Strait Shipping Co. opened a trial voyage to the islands.
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