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Duty-free shopping boom in Hainan during summer vacation

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-08-05 22:04
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HAIKOU - At 10 am, eager tourists rush into the Haikou International Duty-Free Shopping Complex on the west coast of Haikou, capital of South China's Hainan province, ready to embark on their shopping spree in this tropical paradise.

With the arrival of summer holidays, Hainan once again attracts a steady stream of visitors coming to experience its charm, which lies not only in picturesque scenery, but also the world's largest stand-alone duty-free shop with a myriad of duty-free goods.

"Since the kids are on summer vacation, we decided to take a trip," said Xu Bei, a tourist from central China's Hubei Province, who has been to the tropical island several times.

"The environment here is particularly pleasant, and we are very satisfied with the dining and recreational options," said Xu, who had bought quite a lot of items including perfumes, lipsticks, and cosmetic and skincare products.

"Duty-free shopping indeed plays a significant role in our decisions to visit Hainan. Now the duty-free offerings are getting cheaper and more extensive, so we are more willing to come here," said Xu.

She added that her family went to many famous tourist attractions, such as Wuzhizhou Island and Haitang Bay in the resort city of Sanya, and that Haikou was their final destination before heading back to Hubei.

Likewise, Yang Shan, a tourist from east China's Shandong Province, also planned her itinerary to allow visits to both Sanya and Haikou, setting aside one day for duty-free shopping with her little daughter.

"I have bought cosmetics, some of which I plan to give my friends as gifts, and also some for myself," said Yang, while adding that "duty-free discounts are so substantial that goods here are even cheaper than shopping online, and their quality is guaranteed."

"In traveling to Hainan, we've enjoyed both sightseeing and duty-free shopping. It's such a great two-in-one experience and I feel very satisfied," she said.

Apart from domestic tourists, foreign visitors can also be seen in the duty-free city, one of whom is Sergei Eroputov from Russia.

"It's my first time to come to Hainan and the experience is very good. I want to buy some presents here for my children," said Eroputov.

He said that the trip, made specifically for duty-free shopping, enabled him to find a wide range of brands, while also enjoying a captivating architectural shopping landscape as bonus.

In June 2020, China released a master plan to develop Hainan into a globally influential and high-level free trade port by the middle of this century. Over recent years, the island province has become an attractive shopping destination for consumers.

The influx of tourists during summer vacation has enhanced the duty-free shopping enthusiasm of local salespeople.

"Since summer vacation began, there has been a notable increase in foot traffic from Monday to Friday, and on weekends the number of visitors jumps even further," said Yao Xinyu, a salesman for a Swiss watch and jewelry brand in the duty-free city. "Our daily sales have increased by about 30 to 40 percent compared to the period before the holidays," Yao added.

Yao believes duty-free shopping has become an essential part of tourist visits to Hainan and that some tourists even come mainly for shopping.

In order to further release the consumption potential and stimulate the vitality of duty-free shopping, Hainan at the beginning of July launched the two-month 2023 Hainan International Duty-free Shopping Festival.

Through distribution of duty-free shopping vouchers and the hosting of summer parent-child duty-free shopping activities, the festival delivers a diversified shopping experience and real discounts to consumers.

For the Haikou International Duty-Free Shopping Complex, which opened last October, this is a first taste of the summer vacation experience. "We have organized diverse activities for groups like families and students during the summer holidays," said Sun Huiyan, the sales manager of the duty-free shopping mall.

She said that August would see a series of events related to the Qixi Festival, or the Chinese Valentine's Day, and also electronics, aimed at creating opportunities for tourists to fully indulge in the delight of duty-free shopping.

According to official statistics, in the first half of this year, Hainan received a total of about 46 million tourists, a year-on-year increase of 32.8 percent, while its total sales revenue generated by offshore duty-free shops reached about 32.4 billion yuan (about $4.48 billion), up 31 percent year on year.

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