“For the most part, the civilian populations on many of the features in the South China Sea are either working for or otherwise supported by their respective governments,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

“Tourism has been limited in the South China Sea for practical, economic and political reasons,” Spangler added. “Even so, both China and Vietnam have organized cruise ship tours to their occupied features, and some Philippine officials have advocated doing the same.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/civilians-helping-governments-stake-claims-in-south-china-sea/3650842.html

“For the most part, the civilian populations on many of the features in the South China Sea are either working for or otherwise supported by their respective governments. That goes for China-occupied Woody Island, Philippines-occupied Thitu Island, Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba Island, Vietnam-occupied Spratly Island, and various others.”

“Tourism has been limited in the South China Sea for practical, economic, and political reasons. Even so, both China and Vietnam have organized cruise ship tours to their occupied features, and some Philippine officials have advocated doing the same. Malaysia’s Avillion Layang Layang Resort on Swallow Reef is the longest-running of these efforts and has certainly helped to advance its claims to the feature.”

“Tourism could be seen as positive in that it provides concrete evidence that South China Sea infrastructural developments are at least partly intended for civilian purposes and suggests that the future of the disputes need not be confined to military issues. On the other hand, it could be seen as negative in that it highlights the unresolved sovereignty issues and alters the status quo.”