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Holiday travel boom, government vouchers drive up duty-free consumption in Hainan

Updated: Sep 28, 2023 By CHEN BOWEN in Haikou | CHINA DAILY Print
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Customers throng a duty-free shopping center in Sanya, Hainan province. [Photo/Sanya Daily]

South China's Hainan province recorded a boom in duty-free consumption during the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday period, with offshore duty-free sales reaching 1.33 billion yuan ($182 million), an increase of 117 percent compared with the same period last year, according to Haikou Customs.

During the holiday period, which started on Sept 29 and continued till Friday, the number of duty-free consumers also reached 170,000, a year-on-year growth of 143 percent.

To boost Golden Week consumption, cities and counties across Hainan issued special vouchers. Sanya, for example, released government vouchers worth more than 70 million yuan to drive consumption, including duty-free shopping.

Qiongshan district in the city of Haikou issued a series of Global Premium Duty Free Plaza consumption vouchers worth a total of 1 million yuan to tourists, facilitating the purchase of digital products.

"I got a great deal. With the government vouchers and the shopping plaza's discounts, I saved nearly 1,000 yuan," said Qiao Yuanyuan, a tourist from Jiangsu province who bought a smartphone and cosmetics at GDF Plaza on Thursday afternoon.

A tourist surnamed Zhao, from Hebei province, said that duty-free goods are now considered Hainan's "specialties", and she bought several items with the help of government vouchers.

Duty-free stores across the province launched new products and created immersive shopping experiences to draw visitors and stimulate sales.

For example, the Haikou International Duty-Free Shopping Complex organized a classic hanfu (traditional Chinese clothing) parade, a dance flash mob, a blind box lottery and fun games.

"The shopping complex offered visitors unforgettable cultural experiences. There were good brands, great discounts, diverse activities and amazing performances. My family spent a very memorable day there," said a tourist surnamed Li from Sichuan province.

Zhang Xinxin, a salesperson at the complex, said that duty-free shopping gained strong momentum during the holiday period. "There seemed to be a never-ending line of customers. We were busy all day long."

Two special policies introduced on April 1 to facilitate the collection of offshore duty-free products further aided consumption during the holiday period.

Tourists who purchase duty-free products having a unit price of 50,000 yuan or above before departure from the island are able to choose the "guaranteed pickup "option, which means they can pick up the goods on site after submitting a guarantee equivalent to the import tax.

When purchasing duty-free goods in 15 categories mentioned on the annex list, including cosmetics and clothing, customers can choose the "buy and pickup" option applicable to items that cost less than 20,000 yuan each. After payment, they can pick up the products on site and Customs will not inspect the items during departure from the island.

Zhao Na, a visitor from Guangdong province who makes frequent business trips to Hainan, said: "Before these new policies took effect, I had to pick up the duty-free items I purchased at a designated airport counter. It was time-consuming because of long lines."

A tourist surnamed Wang who picked up her goods from Haikou South Port on Friday said: "I chose the 'buy and pickup' option for cosmetics and the 'guaranteed pickup' option for an expensive watch I purchased. It was really convenient."

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