Hainan province’s offer of tax rebates to shoppers is expected to draw flocks of tourists to the island during the coming National Day holiday.

Ctrip, one of the country’s leading travel service websites, said the island’s most popular tourist city, Sanya, will attract more tourists during the seven-day holiday, which starts on Oct 1, than other destinations in the country.

According to a survey conducted by Ctrip, about 10 percent of the 4,000 respondents would like to visit the city during the holiday.

"The rosy forecast for tourism on the island is partly the result of the tax rebate policy, which benefits visitors who like to go shopping," said Chen Yaqin, a public-relations manager for the Chinese online travel agency Qunar. Chen said more and more orders have been made for air tickets in the past two weeks.

"I would like to shop around if the price is fair enough on the island," said a 23-year-old student surnamed Ying, who studied in Canada and normally buys luxury goods abroad.

Ying said the rebate offer will make her family’s impending trip to Hainan even more enticing. She said she now considers the island to be a place for sand, sun and shopping.

Starting in April, Hainan began offering tax rebates that are similar to those that can be found on Okinawa Island in Japan, Jeju Island in South Korea and the Penghu islands in Taiwan.

Under the rebate rules, both Chinese and international tourists who are at least 18 years old can claim a rebate that will lower the total price of a product, including taxes, from 15 percent to 35 percent. The policy applies to 18 types of products, including jewelry, artwork, wristwatches, perfume, cosmetics, clothing and sporting goods.

It does not apply to cigarettes, alcohol and cars. Nor can it be claimed on more than 5,000 yuan ($800) worth of goods.

The policy was meant to give Chinese tourists an attractive alternative to Hong Kong as a good place to buy luxury goods.

Statistics from the Haikou Customs Office show that tax-free shops in Sanya had sold 580,000 goods to tourists from the time the rebate was adopted to the end of August. In the same period, nearly 197,000 tourists had submitted tax rebate applications and each had spent 2,000 yuan on average on shopping.

The customs office said tourists’ spending has led to an increase in the number of duty-free goods that have been imported since May. Cosmetics are the most popular products, accounting for 40 percent of the island’s total imports.

This past year, 628,700 people visited the island during the National Day holiday week, bringing as much as much as 890 million yuan with them.

Meanwhile, vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said on Tuesday that the province should take stronger measures to protect itself against Typhoon Nesat, which is heading toward Hainan after hitting the Philippines and leaving at least 35 people dead on Thursday.

The Guangdong China Travel Service said on Thursday that it has postponed trips that tour groups were scheduled to take to the island during the next two days and held back 200 tourists.

The agency estimated the bad weather that is expected to come during the holiday week will affect the plans of at least 5,000 of its clients. 
 

 
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