A yacht moves past the cruise ship hub in Sanya, Hainan province, during a nightly circuit in February. (Photo: China Daily)
Overseas yachts can now enter the waters of Hainan Island and its adjacent scenic spots with temporary approvals, thanks to a new policy making Hainan the first provincial-level area to manage such entries directly, according to provincial authorities.
Wu Pingsheng, deputy director of the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration, said the policy covers Hainan Island and adjacent scenic water areas, but excludes restricted military areas and the Xisha and Nansha islands.
Previously, the entry of foreign yachts to Hainan was handled by State-level transportation authorities.
The new measures also provide easier access for yachts from Hong Kong and Macao to Hainan, with entry and exit approval procedures simplified and requirements for single-voyage certification documents canceled, said Wu, whose administration is now responsible for the temporary approvals.
The move was welcomed by experts and the tourism industry as a step to help accelerate the development of Hainan as a province with a strong ocean economy and growing status as an international tourism center. It is considered a way for the central government to boost the China (Hainan) Pilot Free Trade Zone.
In line with the overall plans of the central government, the Hainan provincial government has proposed to make the island province a center for innovative experiments for the yacht industry, a first-class yacht tourism destination and a window to display world-class yacht brands, according to provincial officials.
Hainan has vast marine areas, with 1,944 kilometers of coast and more than 600 islands, islets, reefs and sandbars that provide lots of space for yachting events and uses, said Hai Yang, chief expert at the Healthcare Industry Center of Tsinghua University and chief expert of the Hainan Leisure Fishing Association.
"The free flow of yachts from Hong Kong and Macao to Hainan will bring tourists and investment, which in turn will prompt the tropical island to improve infrastructure for industries of the maritime economy and upgrade its business environment in line with international standards," Hai said.
He called for integrated development of yacht tourism with ocean leisure tourism and leisure fishing. The intention is for those areas to become a pillar industry for Hainan as part of a powerful ocean economy.
"Rich tropical rainforest resources, the unique ethnic culture of the Li people and numerous international sports events should be taken advantage of to produce tourism products that appeal to overseas yacht tourists," said Xie Xiangxiang, an associate professor of tourism at Hainan University.
He said the new policy will also help upgrade the manufacturing of yachts in China and imports of overseas brands.
Nichole Soo, general manager of Huacai Jetpon Marina Club, said changes in the approval of visits by overseas yachts will help Hainan brighten its reputation as a yacht tourism destination. The club, which opened in July, has 68 specially built berths covering 36,440 square meters for luxury yachts.