Property sales and prices in Hainan, China's first international tourism island, rebounded during the island's tourist high season, with investors increasingly looking for opportunities in the commercial sector.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the price of properties in Sanya rose by 48 percent year-on-year in December, the largest increase among 70 major cities. Property prices in Haikou also rose, by 29.7 percent year-on-year.

The floor space of residential properties sold in December climbed 98.1 percent month-on-month, compared with a 52.3 percent surge for 2010. The total sales jumped by 116.7 percent in December over the previous month, hitting 9.4 billion yuan ($1.4 billion).

Though the local government has launched measures to limit the number of homes a family can purchase in Hainan, the development of Hainan international tourism island and the construction of railways on the island attracted a growing number of investors.

Statistics from the Sanya property transaction website show the floor space sold in December increased by 46 percent over the previous month, with the average sales price reaching 21,542 yuan a square meter, up 16.7 percent month-on-month.

But more investors are now turning their gaze from residential to commercial property.

Since Jan 1, foreign tourists can get an 11 percent tax refund on purchases totaling more than 800 yuan spent on 324 types of goods. Meanwhile, the central government is considering regulations that would give Chinese citizens a tax refund on purchases made in Hainan.

According to Chi Fulin, head of the Hainan-based China Institute for Reform and Development, the new taxation policy will add 1.6 million customers to the island and boost the retail market to 2 billion yuan.

Statistics show that Hainan's catering industry had 7 billion yuan in turnover in the first 11 months of 2010, an increase of 23.4 percent over the same period in 2009.

"Compared with developing purely residential projects, developing commercial complexes is a better way to adapt to the market change," said Wang Yanling, general manager of China Railway Real Estate Group Co Ltd (Hainan Branch).

The company plans to build a commercial complex with more than 200,000 sq m of floor space in Sanya, the first its type in the city.

"Compared with apartments along the beach, which have had sky-high prices, I would rather invest in properties in the city's center, with its mature commercial supporting facilities," said Kevin Zhang, an individual investor who has had several apartments in Sanya.

Lin Yixiu, deputy secretary-general of the Sanya municipal government, said at a recent forum that the coordination of the city's tourism and commercial sectors is critical to furthering the city's development. 

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