Hainan, the emerging shopping capital of China
The Sanya duty-free store run by the State-owned China Duty-Free Group Co Ltd (CDF) in downtown Sanya, Hainan province.
New duty-free zones on Hainan are set to establish the Hainan as a favorite shopping destination.
For decades, Hong-Kong has been China’s premier shopping venue, offering Western tourists big-name brand outlets and small, independent stores all offering quality goods at bargain prices. But now with growing international awareness and the renewed financial and political backing of the Chinese government, Hainan is beginning to overshadow its more established rival when it comes to becoming China’s storefront onto the world.
With it typical drawcards of rainforest covered mountains, sun-drenched beaches and a tropical climate spearheading Hainan’s growing popularity, the government’s establishment of a special "duty-free zones" on the island, one in the capital Haikou, as well as Sanya, Qionghai and Wanning, are designed to lure shoppers.
"Duty-free shopping is a great way to stimulate visitors’ spending and is what the island needs to put it alongside its potential international peers," said Ricardo Siu, associate professor of economics and international finance at the University of Macao. "It will definitely help the island in its aim to become a world-class destination."
Hainan has several department stores, but with the designation of the "duty free zones", more boutique stores are expected to open. The traditional shopping scene on the island offers local handicrafts, such as coconut shell carvings, seawater pearls and crystals, as well as Li ethnic textiles. Tropical fruit and nut stores are also scattered along Haixiu Avenue, the most bustling commercial street in Haikou.
Haikou is the commercial center of Hainan and as such goods from around the whole island gather there. Haixiu Avenue is the most bustling commercial street in Haikou, featuring a range of fashion outlets and other stores offering local based products. In addition to the Le Pu Sheng Emporium, the No.1 Department Store, and Shengsheng department store, new shopping centers are developing rapidly in this area.
With Hainan’s prospects of a boom in tourists set to visit the island with intentions of maxing out their credit card, the traditional folk trade markets presently form a unique local flavour to the island’s shopping. Using local materials, Hainan’s featured artwork and souvenirs are created with ocean themes, rural styles and national flavours. There are many shops within Hainan that sell many kinds of pearls, with the seawater pearl being the specialty of Hainan.
Other home made products include crystals, sea-shells and Li brocades. This is a featured cloth handmade by the Li people using cotton inside the capsule of kapok. Particularly renowned during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC – 476 BC), the Li Brocade is China’s oldest cotton textile. The Li Brocade includes a column skirt, headband, bed sheet, quilt and so on. Designs of flowers, grass, animals and human beings are exquisitely made.
As the Chinese government continues its vigorous funding and support of Hainan, aiming to transform the island into their own Haiwaii, the prospects for shopping on the island are expected to soon see Hainan overshadow Hong-Kong as the shopping capital of China.
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