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Experiencing holiday consumption boom on tropical island-Xinhua

by Staff
People shop at Haikou International Duty-Free Shopping Complex in Haikou, south China’s Hainan Province, Feb. 11, 2024. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)

by Xinhua writer Zhou Huimin

HAIKOU, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) — During the just-ended Spring Festival holiday, China’s tropical island province of Hainan delivered an outstanding performance, welcoming more than 9.5 million tourists and generating total tourism revenue of over 15 billion yuan (about 2.11 billion U. S. dollars) over the eight days — an increase of 48.8 percent and 62.7 percent year on year, respectively, with both figures representing new records.

As both a journalist and a tourist, I witnessed the ever-vibrant tourism market in Hainan during the 2024 Spring Festival.

On the second day of the holiday, expecting a crowded scene, I ventured into Haikou International Duty-Free Shopping Complex, the world’s largest stand-alone duty-free store. The crowd was indeed significant. At the atrium adorned with red arches and lanterns, a strong festive ambiance prompted numerous visitors to snap pictures.

By a counter of a skincare brand, I met Li Siying, a tourist from central China’s Hubei Province, who was waiting in line to make her purchases. She told me that she had bought skincare products worth over 3,000 yuan for herself and many other products for her friends.

“The variety of products in the duty-free store is impressive and their prices are very competitive. Plus, the option of instant pick-up is very convenient,” she said.

Li has been a frequent visitor to Hainan. “It’s much more convenient to come to shops in Hainan compared with going abroad,” she said.

Looking at the bustling crowd, the long queues and the considerable purchases made by tourists, I really felt the heat of the island’s intense duty-free consumption.

According to data from Haikou Customs, during the 2024 Spring Festival holiday, the island’s duty-free sales totaled around 2.49 billion yuan. The number of duty-free shoppers reached 297,700, with an average spending of 8,358 yuan per person. These figures once again confirmed the vitality of the local consumer market.

Data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed that 474 million domestic tourism trips were made during the Spring Festival holiday, an increase of 34.3 percent over the same period last year and an increase of 19 percent on a comparable basis compared with the pre-pandemic level in 2019. Domestic tourists have spent about 632.69 billion yuan in total, up 7.7 percent from the same holiday period in 2019.

Joining the multitude of holiday tour-goers, I took my family to Maona Village, a Li ethnic village nestled at the foot of Wuzhishan Mountain.

By 3 p.m., as more tourists began to arrive, the village’s square became a bustling scene. Villagers dressed in traditional Li ethnic costumes performed songs and dances to welcome the visitors.

“This is my first time experiencing performances of Li ethnic dances. The ethnic ambiance is truly captivating,” said Bian Na, a tourist from north China’s Hebei Province, as she took in the scenery and the warm hospitality of the villagers.

To cater to tourists, almost every household in the village has set up a stall in front of their home, offering delicacies such as local tea, rice wine, and roasted sugarcane, attracting tourists to taste and purchase. The mingled aroma of tea, wine and fruit created a delightful and bustling rural experience.

To my surprise, I encountered a foreign tourist in this remote village. Nikita from Ukraine told me that he had traveled from Shanghai to Hainan for a vacation. Having a keen interest in Chinese tea, he decided to visit Wuzhishan Mountain which is renowned for tea.

“The tea gardens here are on the mountains and different from those I have seen before. It’s very relaxing to walk around,” said Nikita, after exploring the tea gardens in the village. Besides the tea gardens, he was fascinated by the village’s unique forms of architecture.

During this year’s Spring Festival holiday, this small village with only 135 residents received about 2,000 tourists per day.

Hainan is now striving to establish itself as an international tourism and consumption center. In both the duty-free store full of international luxury brands and the remote village hidden in the mountains, I keenly experienced the dynamism and potential of Hainan as a tourism hotspot.

Hainan certainly serves well as a window offering a clear view of the vibrant holiday economy. 

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