The Chinese province of Hainan is on track to become one of the leading tourist resort destinations in the world by 2021.
According to a report released today by the World Travel & Tourism Council entitled ‘Hainan: Travel & Tourism Development Potential 2011 – 2021’, by 2021 tourism expenditure in Hainan will be roughly equivalent to that of Singapore today, and the industry will support as many jobs as in Malaysia and Italy.
In December 2009, China’s State Council issued a decree that Hainan in the South China Sea – the largest Special Economic Zone in China – was to be elevated into a world-class international tourist resort destination by 2020 and the provincial government is now well on the way to reaching these goals, according to the WTTC report.
International tourism expenditure (visitor exports) in the region is expected to grow by 12.6 per cent every year over the ten-year period 2011 to 2021 to Rmb110.8bn ($17.5bn).
This would make the Hainan tourism economy comparable in size to Singapore’s tourism economy today.
In 2011, tourism contributed 35 per cent of the province’s GDP, with the figure expected to rise to 46 per cent by 2021.
As a result of this growth, Hainan will directly support almost a million jobs in the tourism sector – roughly equal to Malaysia and Italy today.
Such rapid growth though does have some risks, WTTC finds.
It is important for the Hainan Provincial Government to ensure a carefully planned, island-wide approach, ensuring a spirit of co-operation and co-ordination among the different stakeholders, not to mention the best interests of the local population at all times.
This will help ensure that tourism does achieve the higher-end goals of sustainable development – contributing to natural and cultural heritage protection and preservation, as well as poverty alleviation.
Speaking at the launch of the report in London, David Scowsill, WTTC president, said: “Hainan is clearly well on-track to achieve its aim of becoming a world-class international tourism destination by 2020.
“With rapid growth in employment, visitor expenditure and contribution to GDP, it is not surprising that this tropical island has already attracted the attention of almost every major international hotel brand.
“The government of Hainan Province clearly recognises tourism’s potential for economic and social contribution and great steps have been taken over the past three years to develop Hainan as a world-class destination.
“The opportunity is now to develop a sustainable, diverse product which draws on the Province’s unique cultural and natural heritage, burgeoning business tourism sector and high profile new attractions.”
A copy of the report can be downloaded here.