Hainan facing tough battle for foreign visitors

Updated: 2014-02-18 09:16

By Wang Qian and Huang Yiming in Haikou (China Daily)

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Amid growing competition from neighboring countries, the effects of the offshore duty-free policy launched in 2011 and visa-free policy for 26 countries through tour groups in Hainan since 2010 seem to have lost their ability to lure more foreign visitors.

Zhang Huifa, vice-chairman of the China Tourism and Hotel Association, said declining tourist numbers show Hainan must make greater efforts to attract visitors, and he suggested lifting visa requirements.

"The 144-hour convenience visa for tour groups to Guangdong should also apply to Hainan, and the requirement for tour groups can be lifted to allow individual tourists," Zhang said.

Lu said Hainan is improving its tourism environment and building up its reputation in the global market as it tries to become a top global destination by 2020.

In April, Hainan will host the 2014 World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit, when hundreds of the world's top tourism experts and agencies will attend a conference in Sanya.

"It is a good opportunity to learn from other countries and introduce Hainan to the world," Lu said.

Hainan is not the only place facing a fall in tourism.

According to the China National Tourism Administration, foreign visitors decreased 2.5 percent last year to 129 million.

China lost nearly 20 percent of visitors from Kazakhstan and Japan and 10 percent from Russia in 2013.

Contact the writers at wangqian@chinadaily.com.cn and huangyiming@chinadaily.com.cn

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