Hainan in China is poised to emerge as a destination to rival Singapore, says the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), with tourism developing at a rate to dwarf Dubai.
A WTTC report on the potential of Hainan, published this week, forecasts the value of tourism on the island will grow 13% a year for the next 10 years.
It suggests: “If Hainan were a country, this would propel Hainan to 13th in the WTTC ranking in 2021.”
Chinese leaders resolved to make Hainan “a world-class resort” by 2020 just three years ago.
WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill said “ambitious planning” and investment lay behind subsequent rapid growth, including “development of more than 60 upscale, internationally branded hotels and resorts, infrastructure, new airport capacity, visa-free entry for foreigners and duty-free shopping”.
Scowsill said: “No other destination in the world has attracted such huge investment, including virtually all the leading hotel brands.”
However, he issued a note of caution, saying: “Considerable care must be taken to ensure controlled development in order to avoid mistakes made in other parts of the world.”
Scowsill called for “a healthy balance between business imperatives, the preservation of cultural heritage, protection of the natural environment and the well-being and prosperity of local communities”.
The WTTC report, Hainan: Travel and Tourism Development Potential, concludes: “Hainan already outranks Hong Kong and Macau in terms of jobs in travel and tourism.”
Hainan, off the south coast of China, is primarily known for its beach resorts and 1,500km of coastline. It’s sometimes referred to as China’s Hawaii. Yet tourism only began to develop in the mid-1990s.
UK arrivals to Hainan so far this year are 33% down on 2011 after a near 31% rise last year to more than 8,000.
Speaking in London, Hainan assistant governor Lu Zhiyuan blamed “the negative impact of Europe’s debt crisis” and said: “We are going to take measures to reinvigorate the market.”
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