New air­port help­sHainan’s tourism take off

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By SU ZHOU in Bei­jing and LIU XIAOLI in Boao, Hainan

For the first time, peo­ple at­tend­ing the Boao Fo­rum for Asia have been able to take flights — ei­ther di­rect from overseas or via con­nect­ing cities on the main­land — to the coastal town of Boao on the east side of Hainan Is­land, in­stead of hav­ing to fly into Haikou or Sanya.

“This year’s fo­rum is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent from pre­vi­ous years,” said Mao Chaofeng, ex­ec­u­tive deputy gover­nor of Hainan prov­ince, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on the side­lines of the fo­rum on Wed­nes­day. “Many par­tic­i­pants of the fo­rum and me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives had the chance to take a di­rect flight to Boao Air­port, which was still an area of waste ground this time last year.”

Boao Air­port, which be­gan op­er­a­tions on March 17, not only makes it much eas­ier for fo­rum par­tic­i­pants to ac­cess the re­sort town but also eases the way for many tourists who visit the area. The air­port is de­signed to be able to ac­com­mo­date 480,000 pas­sen­gers and han­dle 1,440 met­ric tons of cargo an­nu­ally by 2020.

The­fa­cil­i­ty­is­partofHainan’s trans­porta­tion up­grade and fits in with the trop­i­cal is­land’s as­pi­ra­tion to grow into a global tourism des­ti­na­tion by the end of the decade.

Ac­cord­ing to this year’sGovern­ment Work Re­port for Hainan, in ad­di­tion to the es­tab­lish­ment of Boao Air­port, the prov­ince plans to ex­pand ex­ist­ing air­ports at Haikou and Sanya this year and build an­other air­port in Danzhou within the next three years.

Hainan’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) says the prov­ince is ex­pect­ing to see more than 80 mil­lion tourists a year by 2020, with 1.2 mil­lion of those com­ing from overseas. To­tal tourism rev­enue is ex­pected to pass 100 bil­lion yuan ($15.2 bil­lion) by then, and bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity is seen as a key com­po­nent of the ex­pan­sion in tourism.

“In 2015, we had 19 air­lines con­nect­ing to 11 coun­tries. This year, we will keep up our ef­forts and do our best to con­nect to all ma­jor source coun­tries of Hainan’s in­bound tourism,” said Sun Ying, head of theHainan Pro­vin­cial Tourism Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sion. “For those coun­tries al­ready con­nected by air travel, we will add more flights.”

In re­cent years, Hainan has lost ground in the face of fierce com­pe­ti­tion from re­sorts in Thai­land, In­done­si­aandMalaysia, where tourism fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices were more ma­ture.

“Hainan is as good as or even bet­terthansur­round­ing is­lands whentalkingaboutsceneryand the ecosys­tem,” Sun said.

How­ever, the prov­ince needs to in­crease di­rect flights to other coun­tries and fur­ther pro­mote the visa-free poli­cies to boost its tourism devel­op­ment, she said.

Con­tact the writer at suzhou@chi­

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