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Tourist island creating new attractions for visitors
Author:Ma Zhiping and Liu Xiaoli  Source:China Daily   

Hainan, a well-known tropical tourist island at the southernmost point of China, plans to foster new attractions to meet the diversifying needs of tourists, as well as to generate stronger and sustainable power for boosting supply-side structural reform and further upgrading the province as an international tourist destination.

The government of Hainan recently released a plan highlighting the leading roles of its pillar industries in cultivating new attractions that will present individualized functions, brand-new designs, exquisite features and sound quality, according to Wang Changren, deputy director of the Hainan provincial development and reform commission.

The tourism sector, the dominant industry in Hainan, will be the key focus - together with such industries as medical and healthcare, tropical-feature high-efficiency agriculture, information, education, culture and recreational sports - to shoulder and share the mission of fostering a group of new consumption products, increasing effective market supply and renewing the consumption structure and the environment, Wang said at a news conference in Haikou, capital of Hainan province, on Tuesday.

The government expects annual total retail sales of consumer goods to reach 194 billion yuan ($28.72 billion) by 2020, a year-on-year rise of 8 percent, according to the plan, as approved by a recent executive meeting of the Hainan provincial government. The plan said the actual figure could even exceed expectations if backed by strong efforts.

The latest official statistics showed that the province attracted 31.46 million tourists and revenue of 37.14 billion yuan in the first half of this year, up 12.5 and 12.6 percent year-on-year, respectively.

Hainan will take advantage of its exclusive natural resources to enrich the special feature tourism industry. It will expand marine tourism consumption by further developing cruise and yacht tourism products, building ocean theme parks and launching water sports, underwater sightseeing and leisure sea-fishing activities, according to the plan.

In the meantime, construction of the world-class Haikou and Sanya cruiser terminals are underway, aimed at providing comprehensive support to the booming cruiser line businesses. The province is also planning to expand its cruise trip business that connects with Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions, and with countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

Cruise ships have been ferrying Chinese tourists from Sanya to the Xisha Islands since April 2013. The resort island plans to make this a regular operation and develop the route into a major tourist attraction.

More public yacht berths and infrastructure will be built on the island to cultivate the yacht industry and new policies will be introduced to loosen entrance controls for international yachts to sail in local waters.

Recreational vehicle camping leisure tourism, which is becoming more fashionable around the country, is also gaining momentum in Hainan, where a number of standard campsites have been built around tourist resorts such as Sanya, Qiongzhong, Dongfang, Qionghai, Baoting and Wuzhishan. More sites are being developed or planned to help enrich individual driving experiences, while the construction of a tourism highway circling the whole island is underway, soon to provide more travel routes on the tropical island.

Tropical feature landscapes, soft beaches and lifestyles have made Hainan a dreamland for young couples preparing their wedding photos and honeymoons. The island province will continue to cultivate its special attraction resources to build 12 bases and develop more honeymoon products to boost the wedding travel business.

Tourist island creating new attractions for visitors

In addition, Hainan will make use of the special policies on low-altitude flying granted by the State as a special economic zone to establish low-altitude flying tourism pilot bases in Haikou, Sanya and Sansha, to further diversify the local tourism structure.

Rural tourism is also expected to create attractive products, such as leisure-farming and eco-tours, as the province is promoting the construction of "a hundred towns and a thousand villages", a plan set by the provincial government to advance tourism development in rural areas. A number of colorful experiences are available for tourists, such as the beautiful agro-valleys of roses, rice fields and betelnuts in Sanya, Baoting and Wuzhishan; villages growing plants and fruits with seeds produced with satellite science in Wenchang on the eastern coast of the island; and many ethnic culture and lifestyle festivals around the whole island.

Shopping tourism development is also included in Hainan's new set of consumption expansion tasks. In addition to the current two duty-free department stores, the tropical province will open more stores and more channels for duty-free goods. Efforts are being made to further adjust the provincial duty-free policy - granted by the State Council on a pilot basis from April 20, 2011 - to lift limits for each single purchase and improve commodity supplies in the following years.

Wang Huiping, deputy director of the Hainan provincial finance department, said the duty-free policy has served as a big attraction for the island. Total sales at the island's two duty-free shops grew to 6 billion yuan last year from 980 million yuan in 2011.

"Hainan Gifts", a platform offering tourists locally made products, is being enhanced to promote the development, research, design, production and sale of tourist souvenirs with Hainan characteristics and to cultivate new experiences for visitors.

By making good use of the Wenchang satellite launch center in the eastern part of the province - China's fourth space launch center, which was put into operation in June 2016 - Hainan will construct a space theme park, a commercial space complex and themed hotels to promote the space industry's development and to drive forward space-themed tourism.

Tourism infrastructure and public services are also a top concern for the provincial government in exploring new consumption markets. New expressways and highways will circle or run through the island. The current two major airports - Haikou Meilan International Airport and Sanya Phoenix International Airport - are being expanded. Connections linking the airports and scenic spots via bus stations and railway stations are also being upgraded. Tourists also have more choices following the building of new lanes for hiking, biking and roller-skating.

More new flight routes that link Hainan with foreign countries and cities, especially Germany, Japan and Australia, are expected to be in operation by 2020 and a more flexible visa policy will be introduced to offer more convenient access for overseas tourists.

Tropical feature high-efficiency agriculture will cultivate more farm produce brands and provide more high-quality agricultural products by setting up a batch of tropical fruit bases, developing betelnut processing, and expanding pepper, coconut and coffee planting as well as the breeding of local pigs and chickens.

By 2020, a total of 1,000 "agritainment" resorts, 20 national leisure agriculture and rural tourism demonstration sites and 200 provincial level sites will offer tourists a vivid glimpse of rural lifestyles in Hainan.

"The government will clear all the local protection measures and build a transparent market environment. Relevant authorities will provide solid policy support to social investors in terms of capital, tax concession, finance, land-use and talent introduction to ensure all the targets to be met," said Wang, deputy director of the provincial development and reform commission.

Contact the writers at mazhiping@chinadaily.com.cn

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