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Tropical province has global appeal

Ma Zhiping
Updated: Apr 14,2018 11:14 AM     China Daily

Tourists buy coconuts in Hainan’s Lingshui Li autonomous county on Jan 21.[Photo/Xinhua]

Figures speak for the tremendous growth of tourism in Hainan, the country’s youngest province, which celebrated its 30th birthday on April 13.

In 1988, when Hainan became a province, it received 1.18 million tourists. In 2011, the first year it was targeted by the State as an international tourist destination, more than 30 million set foot on the tropical island and the figure more than doubled to over 67 million last year.

A pleasant climate, blue seas, golden beaches and lush coconut trees-the traditional landscape attractions of tropical Hainan-are being further brightened by continuous cultivation and introduction of world-class projects and services that match international standards and meet people’s dreams for happy vacations.

Sanya Atlantis, the third of its kind globally after the Atlantis resorts in Dubai and the Bahamas, is welcoming its first guests late this month, according to its investor, Fosun Group. It is the latest international hospitality brand that has settled in Hainan, which boasts the largest number of world-class hotels in China.

The landmark one-stop resort complex, built at a cost of 11 billion yuan ($1.75 billion), will offer ample leisure and dining experiences. It is located at Haitang Bay, a world-class resort area in northeastern Sanya where beautiful beaches stretch for more than 10 kilometers.

A show based on the film Avatar and produced by Cirque du Soleil, Toruk: The First Flight, is being staged in Sanya until May 1. The three-month show expects total attendance of 300,000.

Last week, the luxury cruise ship MS Europa 2 made a call to the Phoenix Island cruise ship port in Sanya, one of the largest in Asia, which is completing construction of two very large berths, each with a 225,000-ton capacity.

The Europa 2 is one of the 319 cruise ships that have called at Hainan. It brought in more than 450 European tourists to enjoy Hainan’s tropical landscapes, local cuisines and the culture of the ethnic Li people, the original residents of the island.

“In addition to bringing in top-notch cultural and entertainment shows and sports events, the city, popularly dubbed the oriental Hawaii, is also improving its international recognition by introducing more international brands,” said Fan Mu, director of the Sanya Tourism Development Commission.

As China’s largest special economic zone, the only provincial-level international tourism island and a pivotal point on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Hainan also boasts many of the country’s best environmental conditions.

Hainan is attracting more investment from overseas to further develop the huge potential of its tourism sector, which contributed 75 percent of the total revenue of its service industry last year.

“Hainan is determined to continue to upgrade tourism and the supply-side reform of the industry. We will invest 839.3 billion yuan during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020),” said Sun Ying, director of the Hainan Provincial Tourism Development Commission.

She said priorities will be developing large theme park projects, rainforest theme parks, wetland national parks, new tourism products, cruise tours and island tourist ring roads.

Also emphasized is greater international tourism marketing, supported by strong incentives for airlines and cruise liners to encourage inbound tourism.

Hainan will make full use of the preferential policies granted by the State-including the offshore duty-free policy, opening of air traffic, visa-free entry and offshore finance-to raise the service sector’s level and build the province into a world-class international tourist destination set to attract 80 million tourists in 2020, according to Liu Cigui, Party secretary of Hainan province.

He said Hainan will continue opening itself up to the world and fully involve itself in the country’s Belt and Road Initiative to expand cooperation and exchanges with neighboring countries and regions for greater development.

Nature is the biggest advantage and most valuable capital of Hainan, so any project that pollutes or harms local ecosystems will be banned, officials have said.

“We want to attract the best investments with the best resources,” Liu said.

Hainan will strive to build a pleasant home for locals, a four-season garden and a holiday paradise for Chinese and overseas tourists, he said.