China's yacht industry shows potential
By Dong Xue

An increasing number of people in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province, are taking to the high seas on leisure cruises.

Once an activity for only the elite, sailing is now becoming an affordable sport for many.

"It has become really popular. Lots of people can afford it now. About 10 years ago, it would cost around 5,000 yuan ($764) to sail in a boat like this for three hours. But now, the price has dropped to around 2,000 yuan," captain Zhang Hongfa told CGTN.

Apart from soaking up the sun, you can also get some hands-on experience on these cruises.

With a 32,000-kilometer coastline, China is an ideal destination to become a leading yacht market.

For years, the development of a sailing culture in China has been hindered by many factors – a lack of dock infrastructure, a shortage of sailing boats and a crew to maintain them. However, with more support now from the government, such as pilot free trade zones (FTZs), there are signs the yacht industry could soon realize its potential.

"Ten years ago, there were less than 10 yachts in Sanya. Now we have 500 yachts registered in the marine bureau. In 2019, we had 100 yachts available for rent, and by 2020 we had more than 200. So we think that rental services will become more popular in China," said Yan Yaya, president assistant of China Visun Real Estate, which runs one of the biggest yacht companies in China.

"The policies in Hainan Province are great. We want to become a free trade island. Maybe in two or three years, if you buy a yacht in Sanya, you'll be exempt from a lot of tax, so it'll be cheaper than it was 10 years ago," she added.

As part of the plan to boost tourism, Hainan will become a pilot zone for the innovation and development of the yacht industry, after the central government's move to make Hainan a free trade zone. 

Yachts have been highlighted in the sweeping new policy, covering everything from shipping and technology to finance. Companies established within the Hainan Free Trade Zone will be taxed at only 15 percent.

For ordinary people who want a taste of the elite lifestyle, their ship has certainly come in!

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