(CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Sanya, known for its natural tropical landscape in Hainan province, will introduce more world-class attractions to entice visitors throughout 2018.
From overseas, the live multimedia immersive show, Toruk - The First Flight, is one of the events that are coming. Produced by Canadian acrobatic dance troupe Cirque du Soleil, a leading producer of spectacular live entertainment, the play has fans across the world.
The show, inspired by James Cameron's 2009 film Avatar, has delighted millions of people in dozens of countries since its premiere in Montreal in 2015.
The famous dance troupe is staging its dynamic new extravaganza in Sanya for three months from Feb 1. The excitement will take place in a huge tent with a stage that stretches 1,858 sq m and can accommodate an audience of 3,600. A total of 120 performances will be presented until May 1 and the ticket price of this show ranges from 420 yuan ($90) to 1,720 yuan.
Organisers say it is expected to attract 300,000 spectators during the three-month run in Sanya. They say this is the best time of the year, as huge crowds of tourists come to the city to enjoy the warm sunshine, romantic beaches and beautiful tropical landscapes.
With its growing reputation at home and abroad, Sanya is attracting more investment from the outside world.
Leading investment company and Cirque du Soleil business partner Fosun Group is bringing the show to Sanya, a new step underlining its interest in tapping the huge development potential of the city, popularly dubbed as the Oriental Hawaii.
Fosun president Qian Jiannong said the show would bring a boost in ticket revenues to Sanya and attract more tourists. "We also want to improve its international recognition by introducing more international brands," he added.
In addition to backing the show, Fosun has invested 11 billion yuan to build the Atlantis resort.
It said the landmark resort project will provide larger-than-life water play and exotic and marine exhibits, and offer rich dining experiences - along the more than 10km-long stretch of beautiful and quiet beaches at Haitang Bay, planned as a world-class resort area in north-eastern Sanya.
Construction of the Sanya Atlantis, the third of its kind in the world after the Atlantis resorts in Dubai and the Bahamas, started in 2015. Located about 28km from downtown Sanya and covering 30ha, the giant entertainment complex will welcome its first guests this year.
The province got approval from the State Council to build an international tourism island in 2010. Ever since, the province has striven to internationalise its tourism sector.
It has brought in and nurtured high-end tourism products and upgraded services to international standards to ensure better travel experiences for visitors, according to Hainan Provincial Tourism Development Commission director Sun Ying. "Hainan is determined to continue to develop tourism, which is the leading sector of the province's services industry," Sun said.
Zhou Ping, deputy director of the commission, said that Toruk - The First Flight would boost Hainan's tourist attractions, which in turn will up their game even more to offer top services to attract investment from premium tourism companies.
In 2018, Hainan plans to foster the construction of performance sites in each of its cities and counties. The three major cities of Haikou, Sanya and Danzhou will develop tourism performance industry clusters, said Ding Hui, director of the province's cultural and sports department.
Heavy investment in tourism complex
Hainan, welcomed as a something of a holiday paradise in China, will invest 13.5 billion yuan to build a 900km-long tourist road that circles the island.
It will connect the 12 major coastal cities and counties of the island including Haikou, Wenchang, Qionghai, Wanning, Lingshui, Sanya, Ledong, Changjiang, Danzhou, Lingao and Chengmai, in the near future.
About 50 salons will be built along the road, according to a plan released by Hainan Tourism Development Commission. It director Sun said: "We plan to invite international designers to make the designs and build each salon into a fantastic tourist spot."
She added that Hainan will invest a total of 839.3 billion yuan during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).
Priorities will be to develop large theme park projects, rainforest theme parks and wetland national parks, new-feature tourism products, cruise tours, island tourist ring roads and greater international tourism marketing in the next five years.
Russian tourists land in Hainan to spend their holidays.
Hainan has extraordinary natural resources to entice visitors, with 25 large-scale scenic spots. However, to date, it has remained largely a sightseeing tourism island, due to a lack of fully developed tourism complexes.
Once the Atlantis Sanya project, Lingshui marine theme park and other projects around the island province are completed, they will greatly enrich the variety of tourism products and enhance the quality of tourism in Hainan, said Sun.
Expanding overseas links, both air and sea
By late last year, 56 air routes had been opened - connecting Hainan with Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, and international destinations including Russia, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Germany. These have made it much easier for international tourists to reach the tropical island.
The international flight routes are expected to increase to 100 by the year 2020, according to the Liu Cigui, party chief of Hainan.
Meanwhile, sea routes to the province have also expanded, with a greater range that covers countries in south-east Asia.
In December, Haikou, the capital city of Hainan, and Sanya, launched cruise routes to link with the Philippines and Vietnam.
Hainan plans to further work with South-east Asian countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Low-altitude flights offer a bird's eye view
Hainan also offers tourists a bird's eye view of some of its most beautiful spots. Tourists can choose either a helicopter or a seaplane to take in the highlights.
Seaplane operator Meiya Air Travel has opened 19 air tour routes. "Tourists can choose to fly to the Xisha islands in the South China Sea or see the breath-taking spots in Sanya," said company employee Zhu Jia.
At Haikou, visitors can pay 398 yuan to board a seaplane to witness the grandeur of the volcano park scenery or busy Xiuying port.
Developing Mice tourism
Nowadays, Hainan's Mice industry - meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions - has entered a new development period, boosted by international expos and fairs.
More than 746 companies from 30 countries and regions participated in the third Hainan International Tourism Island Expo held recently in Haikou. The expo brought in more than one million visitors.
Mice tourism is one of the new tourism formats that Hainan is going to develop in the next five years, according to the Hainan tourism commission.
The province received more than 67.45 million tourists in 2017, up 12.2 per cent year-on-year, contributing 81 billion yuan in revenue.