Hainan wants HK help on cruises and yachts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 December, 2011, 12:00am


Hainan plans to build one of the biggest cruise terminals on the mainland, and wants to pick Hong Kong's brains on how to develop its cruise and yacht business.

The southern province is in the process of transforming itself into an international tourist spot. The number of tourists was expected to rise to 40 million per year by 2015 from 30 million this year, Lu Zhiyuan, director of the Hainan Provincial Tourism Development Commission, told a conference in Hong Kong yesterday.

To cope with the growing influx of cruise ship visitors, it planned to revamp terminals in Sanya and Haikou to receive 200,000-tonne cruise ships, the largest cruise ship type at present. Cruise ships visiting Hainan usually operate regional routes from Vietnam or neighbouring cities and the existing berths on the island can only dock ships up to 70,000 tonnes.

'In the long run, we'd like to see more ocean-going vessels calling between Hainan and Europe,' Lu said.

Lu said Hong Kong's expertise in operating a cruise terminal meant it could teach Hainan how to build up its cruise-terminal business.

The number of yachts operating in Hainan is also rising, with more high net worth people visiting the island in winter, and buying property or yachts for accommodation.

But many mainland yacht owners prefer to register their yachts in Hong Kong to avoid high mainland levies, of as much as 46 per cent.

Recently, Hainan offered some concessions on yacht ownership to encourage more yacht owners to use the island.

'Yacht financing, however, is underdeveloped on the mainland, which will hinder the yacht business,' said Xie Yilou, chairman of Hainan Ultimate Yachts. Auxiliary businesses for the yacht industry, including marina clubs, after-sales services and financing services, were still at a preliminary stage on the mainland, which needs to learn from Hong Kong, he added.

There are 477 yacht berths in Hainan, serving more than 100 yachts. Industry sources said the number of yachts in Hainan would increase to 1,000 in three to five years.