International tourist island Hainan opens for leisure and business
Updated 21:42, 30-Jan-2019
By Sun Ye, Liang Qipeng

As China's best-known sun-and-beach destination, Hainan is not content with the popularity it already commands.

It is opening up further and employing a host of favorable measures in a bid to become the country's No.1 "International Tourist Island" and Free Trade Port.

Hainan has upgraded its mid-2018 entry policy by granting visitors from 59 countries and regions a 30-day visa-free stay.

The province is also ramping up international access, as it looks to increase the number of international flight routes to more than 100 in two years.

Aleksandra Chikalova from Russia told CGTN that the "no-visa" policy had made traveling so much easier for her and her family. "You just book the flights and hotels, and come." She said. "I will definitely recommend it to others."

Home to one of the world's largest duty-free shops, Hainan also doubled the tax-free buying quota to some 4,300 US dollars in late 2018.

But the island does not only cater to holiday-makers. It is open for business too.

Thomas Cook, one of the UK's largest travel operators, and China's Fosun Tourism Group have recently joined hands to establish Hainan's first-ever travel joint-venture in Sanya.

Alessandro Dassi, CEO & general manager with Thomas Cook China, said the establishment came at a good time.

South China's Hainan Province plans to develop more cruise routes to upgrade its tourism. /VCG Photo

South China's Hainan Province plans to develop more cruise routes to upgrade its tourism. /VCG Photo

He said London-Sanya direct flights and Hainan's visa-free policies are why the ruling has been made, but admitted Hainan's growing status as an international tourist destination and free trade port also played into the decision.

"We also pay close attention to policies, and as the first international travel agency in Hainan, we will certainly benefit as the island becomes the free trade port," he said.

Thomas Cook now promotes Sanya as "China's Tropical Paradise" to Europeans who are not yet familiar with the place. Dassi said Sanya has "great potential" as the city gains better international access and awareness.

And business opportunities are on the rise in the economic pilot zone.

He said talent acquisition is still an issue for the province which aims to be a true international free trade port, but that would change with time.

"I think it's a matter of time. As the free trade port develops and more companies move there, we may expand to other avenues too," he said.

Development is at the current stage in full swing on the island, and that does not only refer to infrastructure upgrades. 

Hainan is also working on a host of facilitating policies, including a free trade account where market entities can easily conduct investment, financing, exchange and other transactions within the free trade port.

It's hoped that in time, Hainan may be the "tropical paradise" for both leisure and business.