In pictures: The Hawaii of Asia

Sanya Hainan Island Phoenix

Why you should make Hainan the first place you visit in #China. Source: Shutterstock.

HAINAN’S tourism department is pulling out all stops to boost tourism to the island, positioned to be China’s Hawaii.

Its Tourism Development Commission recently engaged to leverage the rise of home sharing and develop rural tourism, including through establishing a Hainan Tourism B&B Association.

Located in the southernmost province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hainan consists of various islands in the South China Sea. Hainan Island is the largest and fifth most popular island under PRC rule and makes up the majority of the province.

There are 10 major cities and 10 counties in Hainan Province. Haikou on the northern coast of Hainan Island is the capital while Sanya is a well-known tourist destination on the southern coast.

The other major cities are Wenchang, Qionghai, Wanning, Wuzhishan, Dongfang, and Danzhou.

Hainan Island Sunset

Source: Shutterstock.

Beijing-based Xiaozhu, often called China’s answer to Airbnb, offers listings in over 400 locations globally and raised US$65 million last November. Existing investors include Joy Capital, Morningside Ventures, Capital Today, and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital.

The Hainan Tourism B&B Association aims to regular the development of the B&B industry in Hainan, establish a mechanism for police-citizen interaction, solve problems in B&B operations, improve the industry’s service level and drive competition.

On top of that, the agreement between Xiaozhu and the association will also see the partners jointly promote villages in Hainan, build village B&B accommodation for poverty alleviation, and establish a B&B industry association.

Hainan Island Sanya Harbour Bay

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Village home-sharing in Hainan Island has become a driver of village rejuvenation. Xiaozhu now has over 30,000 village B&Bs and each village B&B creates six local jobs on average.

Hainan Provincial Tourism Development Commission deputy director Ao Liyong shared there are about 516 rural tourist sites across the island, bringing about CNY1.75 billion  (US$256.7 million) in revenue in the first half of this year, up 14.2 percent year-on-year.

It has created a historic opportunity for China’s economic development and the country is ramping up efforts to grow the island’s international tourism intake, first by allowing visa-free access for 59 countries for a 30-day stay.

Tropical Park Hainan Island China

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For years, the province has been developing its tourism industry. China also aims to make Hainan an international free trade zone by 2020 to help increase its tourist numbers by 25 percent annually to at least two million.

Will China succeed in making Hainan province – with its warm oceans, golden beaches, green palm trees, luxury resorts – an international tourism destination?

Take a look at what the island has to offer: