A tourist checks out goods at a duty-free shop in Sanya, Hainan province, on March 12. (Photo/Xinhua)
Hainan province will launch comprehensive tourism insurance products and will provide compensation to tourists who are infected, injured or even lose their lives due to infectious diseases like the novel coronavirus or natural calamities when visiting the island this year, according to a provincial government plan.
The plan encourages insurance companies to develop policies covering tourism-related public safety accidents. Tourism sector operators that volunteer to purchase such policies will be granted 30 percent subsidies from the local government.
Officials with the Hainan provincial government said the plan has been drafted to help revitalize the tourism sector－a pillar industry of the tropical island－against fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak and push forward the building of an international consumption center.
China aims to build Hainan into an international tourism and consumption center by 2025 and a globally influential tourism and consumption destination by 2035. The island attracted more than 83 million tourists from home and abroad in 2019.
"The revitalization plan, scheduled for 2020 and 2021, will help Hainan tourism enterprises reduce their burden and boost their confidence in overcoming the COVID-19 impact while seeking revival by means of government support in such areas as finance, taxation, new project development and tourism-product marketing," Liu Cheng, deputy director of the provincial tourism authority, said at a news conference in the provincial capital of Haikou on March 22.
Local authorities said Hainan witnessed a year-on-year drop of 23 percent in tourist arrivals in January due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with 5.03 million tourist arrivals generating 6.5 billion yuan ($917 million) in revenue, down 27.1 percent from the same period in 2019. All A-level tourist areas on the island have reopened since late February.
Liu said the revitalization plan, detailed in 30 items, applies to seven types of tourism-related companies registered in Hainan and businesses including travel agencies, tourist attractions, hotels and homestays, cruise liners and yachts, golf resorts and leading rural tourism spots.
The plan welcomes tourism operators to invite doctors and nurses and other medical staff－those who helped fight the outbreak－to spend holidays in Hainan. Meanwhile, tourists from other provinces are encouraged to travel in Hainan by car. During major holidays such as Labor Day, Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day this year, sea-crossing expenses for non-Hainan passenger cars with seven seats or fewer will be reduced or refunded.
Hainan will launch a series of promotional activities for offshore duty-free shopping, and further simplify shopping procedures while expanding online sales. The State Council, China's Cabinet, gave Hainan permission to run a pilot offshore duty-free program in April 2011 in an effort to make the island a world-class tourist destination.
"Sanya International Duty-Free Shopping Complex, the world's largest single outlet covering a business area of 72,000 square meters, will introduce more branded products from around the globe to meet tourist demand," said Zhao Jing, an official with the company. It currently provides more than 3,000 varieties of duty-free consumer goods, mostly cosmetics, foods, bags, clothing and other daily articles.
To promote inbound tourism, Hainan will introduce more open-visa free-entry policies and further simplify entry procedures for cruise ships and yachts, while encouraging airlines to resume international routes, said the plan.
It requires governments at all levels in Hainan to incorporate land for tourism projects into land planning to support high-quality development of local tourism, and allows construction of supportive facilities in non-ecological-core areas, under the condition that they don't damage the environment.
The plan also supports cities and counties in central areas of the island to take advantage of Hainan's rare tropical rainforests－which cover more than 4,400 square kilometers, or one-seventh of the island－to introduce internationally renowned environmentally sound hotel brands, develop high-end ecotourism products and create ecotourism destinations that attract Chinese and foreign tourists.
"This is big progress ... and attractions will bring encouraging premiums for the tourism sector in Hainan," said Xie Xiangxiang, an associate professor of tourism at Hainan University.
As of March 16, a total of 3,714 A-level scenic spots in 28 provinces and regions, or more than 30 percent of the country's total, had resumed business as the country sees gradual stabilization of the novel coronavirus epidemic.
The scenic spots are mainly mountainous vistas, open scenic spots, public parks and other outdoor tourist venues, which have been operating without any abnormal epidemic situation, according to a State Council news conference on March 18.