Across China: Low-altitude flight tourism a new trend in Hainan

HAIKOU, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- A frequent visitor to the southern island province of Hainan, Huang Zuolin has recently had her first paragliding experience. "It feels terrific," said the 23-year-old from central China's Hunan Province.

"I felt like I was a bird flying up high, and photos taken in the air were great," said the young woman. "During the eight minutes I spent paragliding, I had a bird's-eye view of the sea, forests and farmland, and I was very relaxed there," she said. "I also tried spinning in the air with the help of the coach. It was thrilling."

The Hongjiaoling aviation camp, located in the coastal county of Lingshui, was among the fifth group of aviation camps named by the Aero Sports Federation of China.

Co-owner Cui Shengda, 38, is a native of northwest China's Shaanxi Province. Enthusiastic about the potential of low-altitude flying tours, he moved to Lingshui from another camping base in Hainan in April of last year.

"The take-off site at Hongjiaoling is 360 meters above sea level. Here you can have a panoramic view of the 12-km coastline. The magnificent scenery of the sunset and sea view is breathtaking," said Cui.

After more than a year of operations, the Hongjiaoling aviation camp has gained popularity. "The number of visitors has been climbing over the last two months," said Cui. "The price for a paragliding experience is 880 yuan (about 129 U.S. dollars) per person and currently we can facilitate about 2,000 to 3,000 visitors every month."

Though still novel in China, low-altitude flight tourism has been popular in the United States, Australia and other countries for decades.

"Low-altitude airspace has been gradually developed in China in recent years, alongside the development of the economy, society and the demand for customized tourism products," said Chai Yong, executive director of the International Hospitality Management School of Sanya University.

Hainan is building a national sports tourism demonstration zone, developing international sports tourism products and exploring new growth points for sports tourism consumption.

Chen Shihong, director of Lingshui's bureau of tourism, culture, radio, television and sports, said Hainan's unique climate and natural conditions, together with supportive policies, have provided sound growth potential for outdoor sports.

Low-altitude tourism, including helicopter sightseeing, paragliding, parachute jumping and hot-air balloon experiences, is undergoing rapid growth.

"Hainan is in the leading position in China in terms of low-altitude routes, trips and flight hours, and is gradually growing its brand influence in the area," said Chai.

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