China / Society

World's largest duty-free shop opens in China's Sanya

By LIU XIAOLI in Sanya, Hainan ( Updated: 2014-09-01 19:24

World's largest duty-free shop opens in China's Sanya

Tourists select cosmetics at Sanya Haitang Bay International Shopping Mall, which started business on Monday in the island province Hainan. Boasting 300 international brands, the 72,000-square-meter mall is the world’s largest duty-free shop, according to Wang Weimin, president of China International Travel Service Group, the mall’s investor. [Photo by Huang Yiming / China Daily]

Haitang Bay International Shopping Center, the world's largest duty-free shop located in China's Hainan province, opened its doors on Monday.

The 72,000-square-meter shopping mall, backed by a 5-billion-yuan ($814 million) investment by the China International Travel Service Group Corp, carries nearly 300 international brands and fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Lancome.

For the first time in China, more than 10 high-end brands will open duty-free shops on the mainland, including Rolex, Prada and Giorgio Armani.

Wang Weimin, president of the China International Travel Service Group Corp, said the shopping mall will become a new island landmark.

"The Sanya Haitang Bay International Shopping Center is the world's largest DFS, with the biggest brands and the most complete items," said Wang. "Besides shopping, customers can also enjoy entertainment venues, restaurants and hotels at the mall."

He Xiqing, deputy governor of Hainan province, said offshore duty-free policies have contributed greatly in promoting the province as a tourism destination.

"By July 2014, the DFS income in (the Hainan cities of) Sanya and Haikou exceeded 9 billion yuan, with the number of customers surpassing 10 million," said He.

In April 2011, the State Council, China's Cabinet, permitted a duty-free shopping program in Hainan on a trial basis to attract more tourists.

In 2012, tourism revenues in Hainan reached nearly 38 billion yuan, up 17 percent year-on-year. In 2013, more than 36 million customers visited Hainan and made more than 3.4 billion yuan ($538 million) in purchases of duty-free goods.

Visitors above the age of 16 are allowed to buy a maximum of 8,000 yuan in duty-free goods in Hainan with each visit.

"Compared with the previous DFS, the one in Haitang Bay has a better environment and provides more choices," said Song Yanan, a Sanya resident born in the 1990s. "But you also need to stand in a queue because there are too many people."

"Most of the items sold in Haitang Bay are more expensive than those in Singapore, about 50 yuan higher," said Nitin Tandra, a customer from India. "But that's not too much. The shopping experience will be better if some sellers improve their attitude."

According to the provincial government, the former duty-free mall in Sanya has ceased its operations on Monday. Revenues from the former duty-free mall accounted for 10 percent of the city's total tourist revenue in 2012 and 12 percent in 2013.

Another duty-free mall at the Meilan Airport in the provincial capital of Haikou will be expanded to carry more international brands. The airport's duty-free mall has the largest shopping area for watches and chocolates among Asian airports.

Cang Wei contributed to this story. 

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