Hainan ramps up efforts to build international tourism island
Despite the phenomenal growth in many Chinese coastal cities, China's southern island province of Hainan remains largely undeveloped. However, now it has ramped up efforts to catch up with its coastal neighbours.
Agriculture accounts for 30 per cent of the island's gross domestic product.
To ensure that Hainan does not lag too far behind, its infrastructure is being upgraded.
Among the most visible is the island's first high-speed railway, built at a cost of US$3 billion.
Spanning 308 kilometres, the eastern line connects the provincial capital of Haikou with Sanya and other popular tourist destinations.
Reaching speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour, it reduces a four-hour journey to just 90 minutes.
Construction of the western line is underway and will be ready by 2014. It is expected to promote urbanization and further boost economic development.
Apart from developing its transportation and infrastructure, Hainan Island has also set its sights on becoming a world class tourist destination.
Hoping to turn tourism into a pillar industry, Hainan aims to attract 30 million visitors this year, with one incentive being duty-free shopping.
"Domestic tourists departing by plane can enjoy duty-free shopping twice a year. Each time the limit is capped at 5,000 yuan, and each year they can purchase up to 10,000 yuan of duty free items," said Mr Tang Sixian, deputy director of Sanya Tourism Development Commission.
Analysts said the new policy might keep visitors in Hainan longer, but more needs to be done to improve its appeal as a tourist destination, such as better support facilities and refund procedures, along with quality service staff.