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Welcome to The Moodie Report’s temporary Sanya bureau on Hainan Island.
Looking out at these early morning views from my room at the St Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort, I’m not so certain that I’ll ever leave.
Hainan is often dubbed ‘China’s Hawaii’ but I don’t think it needs any such comparison. It very much has its own identity and attractions. Right now if I was to dub it anything it would be paradise.
Hainan Island is located in the South China Sea, separated from Guangdong’s Leizhou Peninsula to the north by the Qiongzhou Strait. In 1988 this tropical island became part of the newly created Hainan Province, the largest Special Economic Zone created by Chinese leader Deng Xiaopng in the late 1980s.
Hainan has over 1,500 square kilometres of tropical forest, over 4,600 types of plants and more than 570 species of animals. Thanks to its alluring climate, tropical beaches and lush forests, the island is a major tourist destination, principally at this stage for Mainland Chinese, though the international sector is growing.
Hainan Island is also, in financial terms, travel retail’s hottest market. That’s largely thanks to the tremendous work of China Duty Free Group, which pioneered ‘offshore duty free shopping’ (allowing visitors from the Mainland to make duty-free purchases twice a year) here in April 2011, quickly producing astonishing sales results. That momentum gained dramatic added impetus following an increase in the duty free allowance from RMB5,000 (US$800) to RMB8,000 (US$1,275) in late 2012.
China Duty Free Group’s Sanya Bay Duty Free store has quickly emerged as one of the world’s most important duty free operations. Now the state-owned body is poised to do something even bigger and more dramatic. Today at a vendors’ conference, CDFG will present an update on its Haitang Bay International Shopping Complex, an extraordinary 350,000sq m development, with a 100,000sq m duty free store – the world’s largest.
I’m privileged to be the sole media representative here and later today will be visiting the site to check progress, followed by a tour of the Sanya store. It promises to be a compelling experience.
CDFG’s guests were welcomed in magnificent style yesterday at Sanya Phoenix International Airport, before being whisked here to the St Regis. Last night CDFG put on a marvellous outdoor dinner, with all delegates wearing Hainan Island dress. It was a lovely, relaxed occasion, rendered even more special with some tremendous local entertainment.
That view from my window is tempting. It’s time to go explore it.