Sec­ond-home buy­ers fa­vor va­ca­tion spots

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WANG QIAN in Bei­jing and LIU XIAOLI in Haikou

Chi­nese people in search of a sec­ond home are in­creas­ingly opt­ing for va­ca­tion spots with healthy liv­ing en­vi­ron­ments, pro­vid­ing buy­ers with an oc­ca­sional break from city smog.

Pop­u­lar va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tions such as Hainan and Yun­nan have clear en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits a warm cli­mate, moun­tains, beaches and fresh air, fac­tors that are in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive to res­i­dents of Chi­nese cities with air pol­lu­tion prob­lems. In Haikou, cap­i­tal of Hainan prov­ince, more than 43 per­cent of the res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties were sold to people from out­side the prov­ince last year, ac­cord­ing to the city’s hous­ing and ur­ban-ru­ral de­vel­op­ment bureau.

“The fig­ure is ex­pected to in­crease in 2014, be­cause Haikou is among the coun­try’s most liv­able cities,” said Dai Kai­quan, di­rec­tor of the bureau’s mar­ket man­age­ment depart­ment.

Bei­jing res­i­dents bought 1,832 houses in Haikou last year, about twice the num­ber in 2012, ac­cord­ing to the bureau. Since 2012, Bei­jing has ex­pe­ri­enced its worst air pol­lu­tion lev­els in more than half a century, sug­gest­ing that the cap­i­tal’s res­i­dents are drawn to Haikou due to its good air qual­ity.

Air in Haikou is con­sis­tently ranked as the best of the 74 cities mon­i­tored by the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

Dai said the re­laxed life­style, rea­son­able property val­ues and low liv­ing costs are also at­tract­ing more people to Hainan’s provin­cial cap­i­tal.

Li Cong, an im­mi­grant to the United States, bought a villa in Hainan this win­ter for his par­ents af­ter sell­ing his only apart­ment in Bei­jing.

Li, who moved to the US some years ago, said he would like to re­turn to China when he gets older, but the smog-filled cities don’t at­tract him.

“Bei­jing and other met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas are no longer fit for habi­ta­tion, es­pe­cially for el­derly people,” Li said.

Lev­els of fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter in some Chi­nese cities have reached tens of times the rec­om­mended ex­po­sure limit set by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion. Ex­perts have warned that the po­ten­tial health im­pact of wors­en­ing air qual­ity could be much greater than the SARS epi­demic in 2003. Golden brand

Chen Ci, Party chief of Haikou, said good air qual­ity is a “golden brand” and that any mea­sures, in­clud­ing traf­fic con­trol and clean en­ergy, should be con­sid­ered to main­tain the brand.

Property in­vest­ment in Hainan has been boosted by wors­en­ing air qual­ity else­where in China, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Hainan provin­cial hous­ing and ur­ban-ru­ral de­vel­op­ment bureau.

The to­tal in­vest­ment in real es­tate de­vel­op­ment on the is­land prov­ince surged to nearly 120 bil­lion yuan ($19.5 bil­lion) in 2013, a 35 per­cent year-on-year in­crease, about 21 times the fig­ure for 2004, ac­cord­ing to the bureau.

Yun­nan also wants to keep its claim on the golden brand of clean air and low pol­lu­tion.

Ren Jianzheng, pres­i­dent of Norths­tar Group in Yun­nan, who serves as an NPC deputy, said Yun­nan has con­sis­tently im­ple­mented poli­cies on the tourism in­dus­try to re­duce en­vi­ron­men­tal con­tam­i­na­tion.

“Yun­nan never had smog and is among the few prov­inces with no food safety vi­o­la­tions. You won’t find bet­ter wa­ter, food and air,” he said.

Chen Xiaofeng, a real es­tate agent in Kun­ming, cap­i­tal of Yun­nan, said China’s mid­dle and up­per classes of­ten pay mil­lions of yuan for a house in the prov­ince.

In the Dali Bai au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, a fa­mous travel des­ti­na­tion in north­west Yun­nan, a one-court­yard house near the Erhai Lake can sell for around 9 mil­lion yuan ($1.5 mil­lion), Chen said.

“When they have spare time, they can go to Yun­nan and take a break from the fast pace of work or travel around for sev­eral days. That’s more en­joy­able than be­ing in Bei­jing or Shang­hai,” he said. Zheng Xin and Hu Yongqi con­trib­ute to the story. Con­tact the writer at wangqian@ chi­

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