Hainan province: Foreigners wanted

BACK in December 2009, the Chinese government announced an ambitious plan for Hainan, the country’s only tropical province. It was to become “an international resort destination on par with Hawaii” by 2020.Sure enough, this beautiful island in the South China Sea, boasting everything from volcanic mountains and tropical rainforests to pristine sandy beaches and hot springs, has seen its tourism industry boom. Last year the number of hotel rooms doubled and Hainan welcomed more than 36m visitors. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, local tourism will register double-digit growth every year until 2020. But so far a key ingredient of the government’s plan has been largely missing: international visitors. Travel to the island is a mainly domestic affair. More than 97% of visitors last year were Chinese and, accordingly, most of its attractions are geared towards them.This is something that Lu Zhiyuan, director-general of Hainan’s tourism development commission, wants to change. “By 2009 we achieved the goal for the island to become a major domestic destination—now we want to expand internationally,” he says during an event to launch an international competition for couples to win a “dream honeymoon” trip to Hainan. Its bridal business is big: more than 500 wedding organisers operate on the island.Aside from blushing brides, business travel is a particular …

Link to article: www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/08/hainan-province?fsrc=rss

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