S China's Hainan Province looks overseas for expansion
With the tide of inbound tourists rising, China's southern island province of Hainan is adopting policies and developing services and infrastructure to court foreign travelers. Favorable visa policies, more international flights, and tax rebates have accelerated the province's inbound tourism.
Inbound travelers made 1.26 million visits to Hainan last year, nearly 30 percent more than in 2017. Tourism income also increased by over 13 percent to 770 million U.S. dollars during the period.
The province's government aims to attract 1.5 million inbound travel visits this year.
The introduction of 30-day visa-free stays in Hainan for certain nationalities from May 1 on has produced a surge in travel agencies' orders. Hainan's tourism promotions overseas and increased international flights have also contributed to the growth.
A total of 74 inbound flights to Hainan operated in 2018. The provincial tourism authorities plan to increase such flights to 85 this year.
The province also organized more than 40 promotions in other countries and regions, including Southeast Asia, Europe, the United States, Australia and Russian-speaking areas, last year.
Tour operators have also launched routes specifically for inbound travelers.
A typical package features a seaside stay, golf, ethnic Li and Miao cultural experiences, hot springs and cocktails with dinner. Some products also include old-style buildings arcade, dormant volcanoes and religious elements, plus gourmet food.
Hainan's tourism prospects are drawing international tourism players.
Thomas Cook Sanya Branch, a joint-venture travel agency launched by the UK-based Thomas Cook and the Chinese conglomerate Fosun International last year, plans to use its global networks, especially in Europe, to publicize Hainan.
It offers such experiences as tai chi, rafting at Wuzhi Mountain and dining at the No 1 Farmers Market.
But tourism operators say that in addition to this current potential are opportunities for further development. Not enough guides speak Indonesian, Thai or Filipino, and the tourism offered needs quality tour buses and multilingual signage, both of which are currently lacking.
(Cover: Tourists walking through the tropical gardens, Monkey Island research park, Hainan Province, south China. /VCG Photo)