Looking for healthy and orderly development of horse racing on Hainan island, provincial authorities are in discussions with academic research institutes and professional bodies to map the way forward, provincial officials said.
At a gathering on April 13 to mark the 30th anniversary of the creation of the province and the Hainan Special Economic Zone in the capital, Haikou, President Xi Jinping unveiled a plan to make Hainan into a pilot international free-trade zone and explore building a free-trade port with Chinese characteristics - underlining China's commitment to greater opening-up and promoting economic globalization.
In a guideline released in April to support Hainan's reform and opening-up, the central government said China plans to turn the island into a global tourism and consumption hub and will back the development of horse racing, beach and water sports and the creation of a national sports tourism demonstration area.
It also said the island will "explore the development of sports betting and an instant lottery on large-scale international competitions".
The document on the development of horse racing in Hainan has received widespread public attention.
"Building an international tourism and consumption hub is one of the core tasks for developing a free-trade zone and port with Chinese characteristics - and to make the tourism island an international tourist destination. It needs a batch of internationally popular tourist entertainment products," Hainan Daily quoted an unnamed official in charge of the provincial cultural and sports affairs, as saying.
Horse racing is a traditional part of Chinese culture and an internationally popular fashion sport. More than 80 countries and regions around the world have developed horse racing and horse racing industries to attract tourists, the official said.
"Hainan will draw lessons from successful international experience to develop its horse racing industry, providing visitors more entertainment options and enriching the content of the Hainan free trade zone and port," the official said.
Development of horse racing and related industry is a huge project. Everything starts from scratch and needs to be well planned. The key to the development of horse racing in Hainan is to formulate a sophisticated, scientific plan in accordance with the requirements of the central government and make sure that Hainan's horse racing is on the right track from the start, the official said.
"Hainan will start to build race racks and training grounds, set up equestrian clubs and organize all kinds of sports racing events in an orderly manner as soon as the planning is completed. Before the announcement of the plan, people should be careful not to be misinformed or cheated by rumors."
Experts said Hainan's opening-up measures include looking into whether introducing gambling will help boost the island's status as an international tourism destination.
Hainan is expected to attract more than 80 million tourists a year by 2020, including 1.2 million from overseas.