(CNN) — “I decided to come to Sanya because (in) Shanghai the Covid restrictions are more relaxed,” said Li Zefeng, an engineer who lives in China’s largest city.
But he, like others belonging to the resort island off the coast of southern China, soon ate his words.
However, the holiday vibes took a hit last week when 1,200 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the resort hub of Sanya.
For many of these travelers, it’s not just about making frantic calls to family and changing their travel plans, but also dealing with a case of déjà vu — many people visiting Hainan are seeking a break from the strict lockdowns in Shanghai.
After the detection of Covid cases in Hainan, action was swift.
The local government has locked down the city of Sanya, home to nearly a million residents, in addition to 80,000 tourists. Flights leaving the island were cancelled, public transport was suspended and many tourists were confined to their hotels.
An excuse to spend a little more time at the beach may be the silver lining, knowing that tourists are still expected to pay 50% of the room rate at their resorts, which not everyone can afford. And that doesn’t include extra expenses like meals or the cost of missing work.
Under the lockdown, visitors were told they would have to stay on the island for a full week and show proof of five negative Covid tests before being allowed to leave.
Although the local government said it would provide hotel and meal assistance to all those inconvenienced by the lockdown, some took to social media sites such as Weibo to complain that the assistance was insufficient.
With China’s borders essentially closed, many Chinese have opted for domestic travel since the start of the pandemic, and Hainan – with its sun, sand and duty-free shopping – has been one of the most popular destinations.
CNN’s Nectar Gann contributed reporting.