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Hainan steps up learning process with Spain visit

Author : David Ing, Madrid,

  Published: September 16, 2011    Bookmark and Share   



WITH Hainan looking to cement its position as a premium leisure and MICE destination, a high-level tourism delegation from the island visited Spain at the start of September.


The delegation were keen to explore development and cooperation prospects with the European leader for overseas beach holidays, and to look at facilities that have put Spain at the forefront of Europe’s MICE sector in recent years.


Among the ideas Hainan will be studying after the tour is the possibility of developing a hotel chain similar to Spain’s state-run Paradores.


Another will be to promote tourism in rural areas, according to Chen Yao, vice president of both the Tourism Association of Hainan Province and Tourism Marketing Association of China, and head of the 19-strong delegation.


“Spain is a very established tourism destination and we need to learn from them,” Chen told TTG Asia e-Daily.


Building up rural tourism, especially where it links in with hot springs and activity visits to tropical forests – which cover around 60 per cent of Hainan – is among the new initiatives lined up for expanding the island's tourism sector.


Hainan is also seeking to grow its cruise and medical tourism sectors, in addition to its traditional beach holiday base.


While further tourism development will continue in the main resort city of Sanya, other areas to be cultivated include Lingshui, Wanning, Qionghai and Wengchang – all on the east coast – and around the capital of Haikou in the north.


A new conference centre in Haikou is scheduled to open before year-end, adding to those in Sanya and Boao. “We are also going to build 70 more hotels over the next five years, all of them in the four- or five-star category,” Chen said.


Nearly all of Hainan’s 25.6 million visitors last year came from the Chinese mainland. Describing Hainan as a “window and bridge for Chinese tourism”, Chen said they would keep their focus on the high-end domestic market, which has proven lucrative so far.


With foreigners accounting for around five per cent of total arrivals, the main overseas source market, Russia, contributes about a quarter of these, and “looks to have continuing good prospects” for both leisure and MICE inbound traffic, according to Chen.


Hainan's three leading source markets in Western Europe – Germany, France and the UK – are expected to remain in that order.


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