Stores established on South China's tropical island province of Hainan as part of a pilot duty-free program saw business continue to boom this year.

More than 585,000 people shopped at the province's two duty-free stores in the first half of this year, taking home goods worth 1.19 billion yuan ($189 million), the customs office of the provincial capital of Haikou said in a Friday statement.

Sales increased by 55.5 percent and the number of customers went up by 54.8 percent compared with the latter half of last year, the statement said.

Sales at the duty-free store in Haikou stood at 190 million yuan, while the second store, located in the city of Sanya, raked in 996 million yuan, it said.

Cosmetics, watches, bags and perfume accounted for 80.5 percent of total sales revenues, the statement said.

China launched a pilot program in April to allow tourists and locals in Hainan to enjoy duty exemptions and tax refunds on certain imported products worth less than 5,000 yuan before flying to other destinations in China.

The move is part of efforts to lure more people to the tropical island and build it into an international tourism destination by 2020. 

SOURCE: China Daily
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