China aims to make Hainan an international tourism island

For years China’s Hainan province has been developing its tourism industry, with the key decision made by central authorities that aims to turn the island into an international tourist destination. Thirty years after Hainan island became a province and a special economic zone, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an acceleration of its development into a center for international tourism and consumption.

Hainan’s tourism industry has grown rapidly, but it’s suffered from “growing pains”. During the Spring Festival of 2018, thousands of holidaymakers returning home were stuck in a massive traffic jam on the island. When asked about it at this year’s plenary session of the national legislature, delegate A Dong, also the mayor of Hainan’s major tourist city of Sanya said there was a need for improvement. He said that the tourism industry in Hainan lacks high-end and competitive products. “The quality of relevant services cannot meet international standard yet,” he added.

President Xi announced a series of favorable policies covering tourism, aiming to make Hainan an international resort. The efforts include carrying out major infrastructure projects like international routes and airlines while embracing intelligent and network infrastructure. In order to develop Hainan into an international hub of tourism and consumption, the government will open up the duty-free policy to boost sales. Xi also called for new tourism programs and better services.

Sanya set up China’s first tourist police patrol in 2015 to standardize the tourism sector and offer better quality services to tourists. The captain of the division told CGTN that they are specialized in answering queries, resolving disputes and cracking down on crimes. In the future, they will equip themselves with more high-tech devices to quickly respond to emergencies, to check tourist sites and to translate. Police officers are also being trained in foreign languages to overcome the language barrier and better help overseas tourists.

The province is also seeking creative ways to attract tourists by offering them diverse and exclusive experience. For instance, luxury hotel resorts are introducing cultural and educational programs to accommodation, which somewhat reflects Hainan’s ambition to turn itself into the Dubai of China.

China also plans to further extend the offshore duty-free shopping policy in Hainan to cover all outbound tourists. Hainan has already had one of the world’s largest duty-free shopping centers and it’s now the fourth island in the world to pilot the policy.

The government wants Hainan to welcome more global investors, becoming a free trade zone by 2020 and a free trade port by 2025. In Sanya, the Phoenix Island International Cruise Port being upgraded is welcoming an increasing number of people internationally and the island can look forward to a brighter future.

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