China’s international and foreign policies have changed over the years. The country has opened itself up to new collaborations. There was a time when the country did not welcome many visitors to the place. However, things changed with time gradually. Currently, China has opened doors to visitors from around 59 nations, providing them visa-free entrance to Hainan Island. This step has been taken as a measure to boost economic growth and tourism in the backwater province of China. There is no need for a Chinese visa from USA for visiting the Hainan Island now. However, the stay in Hainan Island without a visa will be for up to 30 days and not more. This announcement was made by the State Immigration Authority. Along with USA, people from UK, Canada and other Asian and European countries will also be able to avail this facility.

However, there are some countries, which have not been given this permission. These include almost all Africa countries, three countries which belong to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) namely Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and countries which make up the Indian subcontinent. This latest development is an expansion or extension of the 2000 policy, in which permission was granted to tour groups from 21 different countries for making an entry into Hainan visa-free for a period of up to 2 weeks. With the new move, there has been slight change in this rule. Now individual travelers and tourists can get into Hainan and have extended periods of stay there without the need of visa. This initiative will not only boost tourism in the place, but has also shown great prospects for various Chinese airlines. This also includes Hainan’s flagship carrier, namely Hainan Airlines. This airline is an integral unit of HNA Group, which is a troubled Chinese conglomerate.

With the policy implemented in the right way, it is expected to see sharp increase in the numbers of international travelers and tourists visiting Hainan in the days to come. It is being assumed that the island province of Hainan will emerge as “Asia’s Hawaii”. This view was put forward by Chong Tai-Leung, who is the associate professor of economics associated to the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He also opined that many other industries will benefit from this policy. There are many companies, who run various kinds of businesses in the province and they are sure to benefit from this initiative. Developers, airlines etc. are some of the best examples in this regard.

It is interesting to note that Hainan has been long promoted and known as “China’s Hawaii”. The tropical island extends over an area of 35,000 square-kilometers and lies towards the north-west of South China Sea. Philippines lies to the east and Vietnam lies to the west of the island province. When historical references are sought, the place is regarded as a backwater.

Hainan – the evolving tourist destination on China

No place becomes a leading travel and tourist destination within a short period of time. It takes time for the popularity to grow and develop. The same stands for Hainan as well. It will take some time to emerge as a leading international travel and tourist destination. When reports were studied and analyzed, it was seen that the numbers of international travelers and tourists arriving in Hainan, just touched the one million mark last year. This was just 1.6% of domestic visitors who came to the island province. The numbers of domestic travelers were around 60 million in 2017. Same as Hainan, Bali attracted more than 5 million foreign visitors. Interestingly, the size of Bali is almost 1/6th Hainan’s size.

Initiatives are being taken to develop Hainan as a leading international travel and tourist destination and the whole venture is being supported by Xi Jinping, the Chinese President. With such steps, China’s financial and tourism sectors will open up and more foreign investors will be attracted to the country for making investments. Along with developing Hainan as a leading international tourist destination, the backwaters will also be made into a free trade port. Revenues for travel and tourism sector, which includes both domestic as well as international arrivals summed to almost 81.2 billion Yuan. It is a well-known fact that Hainan is one of China’s largest special economic zone ever since 1988. But when discussions about status and development come, Hainan has trailed provinces like Shenzen. The province has been able to bring less than US $10 billion when it comes to foreign investment. As a result, Hainan has never been able to make a considerable place in the economic map of China.

Hainan being developed as a pilot free trade port in China

Another grand plan for Hainan is that it will be made into a pilot free trade port in China. This development would bring great challenges for the likes of Singapore and Hong Kong. With this attempt the President of China aims to make Hainan the largest free-trade port in the whole world. The place will be transformed into a pilot zone and there will be efforts for building “ecological civilization” in the country and the province.

Other developments in Hainan are also under way by efforts and initiatives of the Chinese President. There will be exchanges in carbon trading, shipping, international energy and commodities with other nations. Modern service industries will also do good business in the island including health care, travel and tourism, internet, hosting exhibitions and conferences and finance. Development of information technology is also being emphasized in the nation and province in fields like satellite navigation, big data and artificial intelligence. Property developers are also sure to find many avenues in Hainan with increasing and booming travel and tourism industry. Along with building hotels, the developers will build conference centers and malls in the area for attracting more numbers of tourists.

Though visa is not needed by US citizens now for visiting Hainan in China, you will need to apply for China visa from USA if you want to intend other parts of China for travel or tourism or any other purpose. It is also possible to obtain urgent China visa if you need to travel on emergency basis or on very short notice.

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