Barely a decade since the first international hotel reached its shores, the tropical resort city of Sanya on Hainan Island has further flexed its tourism muscles to secure the top spot in China’s most preferred MICE destinations. With all the planned developments in Yalong Bay completed, Sanya is identifying its next hotbed of growth and grooming itself for another round of swanky transformation.
Encouraging visitor arrival figures are powering its makeover. In 2012 alone, Sanya welcomed more than 10 million domestic tourists, which generated about US$3.1 billion in revenue, according to tourism figures. Sanya’s visitor arrivals accounted for nearly a third of the entire Hainan province’s total visitor count.
Michel Goget, chairman of the Sanya Tourism Association, says the city’s MICE business is benefiting from the influx of domestic tourists. At least 30 per cent of Sanya’s tourism revenues are derived from business-related events, he says.
Golf incentives, developments in Haitang Bay and beefed-up MICE offerings await event planners this year. More than 26,000 luxury rooms will be available in 2013, Goget says.
With all the tropical ingredients in place, Sanya is also being developed as a golf destination hub. “We are competitive in terms of hospitality and services, located in a great part of the world, and our infrastructure is purpose built for golf tourism and more,” Goget says. At present, Hainan has more than 50 golf courses, 13 of which are in Sanya.
Sanya’s location at the heart of a geographical triangle involving Singapore, Moscow and Tokyo has its advantages, according to Goget. Convenient flight connections, high-quality hotels and resorts and an appealing climate make Sanya an attractive destination for leisure and business. The city is a favourite among automotive industry players, with Audi, Bentley and Mercedes-Benz among its most frequent guests.
The much heralded Haitang Bay project is expected to further bolster Sanya’s appeal for business events. “The development will involve a 26km-long strip of beautiful beach where more than 30 luxury properties will rise,” Goget says. “The more hotels we have, the better and the easier for us to communicate to the outside world how attractive Sanya is for corporate meetings and incentives.”
The project will feature an interconnected network of luxury hotel chains, where top brands will be conveniently located in clusters. Many of the properties will house huge facilities, with ballrooms ranging from 300sqm to 1,400sqm in size. “With its large network of hotels, Haitang Bay will be the default area for anyone requiring a thousand rooms for a city-wide convention,” Goget says.
Sanya’s growth has been very strong in the last seven years. In 2014, the city will double its hotel inventory as properties are completed in Haitang Bay, which could create an imbalance in demand and supply, Goget warns. “This will likely translate into more aggressive rates,” he says.



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