Sanya has accelerated the development of its tourism industry, taking advantage of the favourable conditions brought by the 'Hainan International Tourism Island' initiative, which was upgraded into a national policy last year.
As a result, Hainan plans to invest 3.52 trillion yuan (HK$4.24 trillion) from 2010 to 2020 in tourism projects and related facilities. Most of these projects will take place in Sanya, which plays a leading role in the province's tourism development.
The central government has also pledged to come up with new polices to enhance Hainan's competitiveness as an international tourist destination, such as the introduction of a duty-free policy in April, aiming to turn Hainan into a 'shopping paradise' for international and domestic visitors.
Wang Yong, mayor and deputy secretary of Sanya Party committee, told the local People's Congress in March this year that efforts will be made to raise the tourism industry to international standards, and improve the quality of tourism development. These will include attempts to accelerate the development at Haitang Bay, to develop Sanya as a home for cruise ships and yachts, to improve and upgrade existing tourism facilities, to provide better tourism services, such as setting up tourist centres, and to raise the awareness of Sanya in foreign countries.
Maintaining the growth of tourism is also crucial for the local government because it has been the main driver of the local economy. Last year, revenue from tourism rose 34.7 per cent to 13.96 billion yuan. Sanya received 8.825 million overnight visitors during the year, up 15.6 per cent from 2009, and the highest growth since 2007. The growth from foreign visitors was even higher, up 30.6 per cent to 415,100.
In Sanya, the pace of construction is phenomenal. At Haitang Bay, which the local government aims to develop into a world-class resort destination, six international resorts will open this year and another 10 next year. There will also be a hospital providing the best facilities in China.
Elsewhere in Sanya, a number of tourism projects will open in the next two years. These will include the Coastal Wetland Park, an international culture town, an international conference and exhibition centre, an international arts centre, phase two of Yalong Bay project, and the Phoenix Island and Luhuitou peninsula projects.
To increase its awareness overseas, Sanya will also continue to host large-scale international events, such as the Miss World final, the Volvo sailing race and the BRICS summit. BRICS is an economic grouping of nations comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The only thing that threatens to disrupt Sanya's continued tourism growth is the lack of capacity at its single-runway airport, as air travel accounts for the bulk of visitor traffic due to the city's location.
The local government has started the third phase of construction at the Sanya Phoenix International Airport, which had already reached its capacity.