Text by Yin Xing Photographs by Wan Quan
On April 20, 2011, Hainan became the world’s fifth island to implement duty-free policy after South Korea’s Jeju Island, Japan’s Okinawa Island, and Kinmen and Matsu Islands of China’s Taiwan. Previously, Hainan was never a shopping destination, and such economic environment contributed little to its tourism revenue. The new policy aims to attract more tourists to the island and to boost consumption, allowing mainland travelers to buy duty-free goods in Hainan as they return by air. The effects have been overwhelming. Since the program was launched, the duty-free shop in Hainan’s Sanya has been perpetually crowded with customers. On the first day of the Labor Day holiday alone, 17,000 shoppers patronized the store. According to local media, the visitor-count at Hainan’s key scenic spots showed a rapid increase. On May 1, Nanshan Scenic Spot welcomed 12,000 visitors, up 67 percent from the same day of the previous year; Tropical Heaven Forest Park attracted 5,581 visitors, up 519 percent; Ends of the Earth swelled with 12,000 visitors, up 45 percent; and 5,000 tourists visited Dreamy Valley, a 100 percent increase.
The duty-free policy also creates duty-free shopping as a new tourist attraction to Hainan. Many travel agencies are hyping -duty-free shopping’ with their travel packages. He Xuejuan, marketing manager of the See Sea Travel Agency, noted that duty-free shopping is now included in their middle and high-end programs. Guides take the tourists to the duty-free store to shop for an hour and a half the day before they leave the island. “Many customers have shown great interest in duty-free shopping,” she remarks. “We easily reached our desired market performance.”
“I chose to visit Sanya because I can buy high-end cosmetics at relatively low prices without going to Hong Kong or abroad,” explains Huang Ranran from Shandong Province as she displays dozens of bottles of cosmetics. “But it’s a pity that the maximum is only 5,000 yuan. For travelers who come all this way to shop, that is too low.”