Hainan Special: Island treasures its natural advantages
Updated: 2013-12-27 06:50
By Huang Yiming in Haikou and Zhuan Ti in Beijing(China Daily)
Hainan has its sights set on being a world-famous tourist destination
Hainan, the island province located in the South China Sea, is considered the "Chinese Hawaii" and has become a very popular tourist destination in recent years.
Lu Zhiyuan, director of Hainan Tourism Development Council, said the local government has put great efforts into developing the island's tourism industry since 2010, and over the past few years, it is expected 127 million tourists will have visited Hainan.
Hainan's move is significant since the Chinese government has made tourism one of the pillar industries of Chinese economic growth, he added.
"Hainan has diverse tourist resources, such as its beautiful natural environment and unique culture," said Lu.
As the second-largest island in China, Hainan's coastline stretches 1,823 kilometers and more than 50 percent of that is sandy shores.
With its pleasant climate and seawater temperatures that range from 18 C to 30 C for most of the year, the island is ideal for water sports and sunbathing.
There are also abundant coral reefs and dense mangrove forests that have become natural attractions for tourists from all over the world.
Lu said over 60 percent of the land is covered by forest, which helps to keep air quality at a good level and Hainan regularly tops China's best air list.
In addition to sandy shores and forests, villages and parks built from volcanic rock are also popular attractions, as the ancient residents of Haikou city, the capital of Hainan, constructed their distinctive dwellings, as well as bridges, theaters and temples, even daily necessities such as bowls and pots, from volcanic materials like black basalt.
The island also boasts many hot springs, which are a favorite of tourists in winter, which are also a legacy of the volcanic activity that shaped the island in the past.
"The quality of water is excellent here," the local official said. "And most of the hot springs are located in scenic spots, so people can enjoy the beautiful scenery at the same time."
As the only settlement of the Li ethnic group, Hainan also has a unique local culture for visitors to experience.
Binlang Valley, which means "betel nut valley" in Chinese, is a tourist area showcasing the Li and Miao cultures.
There are shows and exhibitions held in the valley everyday, featuring performances, and the arts and crafts of these ethnic groups.
The island is also home to a couple wildlife refuges and tropical rainforests.
As Lu said, "people can always find what they want in Hainan."
However, as well as the beaches and hot springs, Hainan has another attraction - the duty free shopping available. Each tourist can purchase 8,000 yuan ($1,300) of duty free goods on the island.
"For the first three quarters of 2013, the total sales of duty free goods reached 2.3 billion yuan, an increase of 46 percent compared with the same period the previous year," Lu said.
The fast development of the tourism industry has also helped to boost various other local industries.
The yachting industry and cruise industry are both expanding in an enormous rate, Lu said.
There are in total of five international yacht harbors in Hainan province, comprising more than 800 berths.
In addition, there are 2,000 new berths under construction to meet the growing demand.
The local government has also hosted a variety of international activities to boost the global image of Hainan in recent years, including the 10th Boao Forum for Asia, the Final of Miss World 2010, and the World Cup of Golf.
"The most recent news is, Hainan has been selected to host the 14th World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit," the official said.
The event is due to be held in Sanya in April, 2014.
According to the local government, tourism is the most competitive pillar industry of Hainan, and it accounted for 13 percent of Hainan's GDP in 2012.
"Hainan has grabbed more and more of world's attention in the recent years, and we are working to build it into a world-famous tourist destination," the official said.
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The yachting and cruise industries have been developing at a rapid pace for the past few years. Huang Yiming / for China Daily
Craters in the geological park located in Haikou city, Hainan province.
(China Daily 12/27/2013 page10)