Shanghai bid for tax-free tourist zone
Will Clem in Shanghai
Shanghai hopes to set up a tax-free shopping zone for tourists beside its Disney theme park - still under construction - or around Pudong International Airport, mainland media reported yesterday.
Municipal Tourism Administration director Dao Shuming was quoted as saying the city was 'researching' the possibility of applying to the central government for permission to establish shops offering tax rebates to overseas visitors in light of a trial scheme being piloted on Hainan island.
'A tax rebate for tourists is a very good policy,' Dao told the Labour Daily. 'Tourists would obviously be delighted to buy lots of things while spending a small amount of money.
'This will depend on our communication with relevant central government departments.'
Dao's comments followed reports that the Hainan pilot scheme, implemented in January, could be extended to domestic tourists in time for the May weekend holiday.
The Shanghai tourism chief did not specify where in Pudong the tax-free shopping zone would be but suggested it could be in 'a resort area'.
The city's official news portal, Eastday.com, cited a report by the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce late last month as saying the shopping zone was under feasibility study, with sites around the airport and the future Disney park two possibilities being considered.
The Disney amusement park and adjacent tourism zone - the 3.89 square kilometre first phase of which will include two hotels, a huge man-made lake and extensive conference facilities - is to be built on the southeastern outskirts of the city.
Construction of the 29 billion yuan (HK$34.5 billion) park was officially launched earlier this month and is due to be completed in 2015 or 2016. However, concerns have been raised in Shanghai about the park's chances for success in light of Hong Kong Disneyland's financial difficulties - it has failed to break even in a single year since its opening in 2005.
Dao said the Shanghai park - the US-based entertainment giant's third in Asia and sixth in the world - would be distinguished from others due to 'Chinese characteristics'.
'Many residents of the city are worried that this brand is an American brand, and they have already visited the Tokyo one, so there would be no interest in going again,' he said. 'I think these residents' worries are unnecessary.'
The Disney park and resort is a core plank of a drive the Shanghai government is making to boost the city's reputation as an international tourism destination over the next five years, to build on the perceived success of last year's World Expo.