Is Hainan as attractive overall as other nearby coastal destinations in Southeast Asia?
It’s not just about having the fanciest hotels or cheap prices. The entire destination tourism eco-system and offerings have to be compelling as well.
China’s effort to build its southernmost province into a world-class tourist destination encountered a setback last year when fewer foreigners visited.
The number of foreign visitors to Hainan, China’s most popular island resort, dropped by 7 percent year-on-year in 2013.
Lu Zhiyuan, director of the provincial tourism development commission, blamed increasingly fierce regional competition and airspace restrictions for the decline.
Tourists from Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States, a key segment of the market, were looking at other Asian destinations, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, where prices are much lower.
However, cost is just one factor. The lack of international flights to Hainan is another.
Only 8 percent of flights to and from Hainan in 2010 were international.
According to China’s National Tourism Administration, China lost nearly 20 percent of visitors from Kazakhstan and Japan and 10 percent from Russia in 2013.