China's Hainan province is expected to become one of the world's leading tourism destinations by 2021, according to a report released by the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The report, titled Hainan: Travel & Tourism Development Potential 2011-2021, said that by 2021, tourism expenditure in Hainan will be roughly equivalent to that of Singapore today, and the industry will support as many jobs as in Malaysia and Italy today.
The tourism industry is expected to contribute 46 percent of Hainan's GDP by 2021, or 255 billion yuan ($40 billion), above last year's 35 percent, it said.
The WTTC also forecast that the industry would bring about 550,000 jobs to Hainan in the coming decade, and a further 800,000 if the wider impact of the industry is taken into account.
Lu Zhiyuan, assistant governor of Hainan Province and director of Hainan Provincial Tourism Development Commission, said the WTTC report is professional.
"We hope Hainan could attract more international visitors in the future," Lu added.
WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill said that "ambitious planning" and investments are behind the province’s rapid growth, including the "development of more than 60 upscale, internationally branded hotels and resorts, infrastructure, new airport capacity, visa-free entry for foreigners and duty-free shopping".
"No other destination in the world has attracted such huge investments, including virtually all the leading hotel brands," Scowsill said.
However, he sounded a note of caution.
"Considerable care must be taken to ensure controlled development in order to avoid mistakes made in other parts of the world," he said.
Scowsill called for "a healthy balance between business imperatives, the preservation of cultural heritage, protection of the natural environment and the well-being and prosperity of local communities".
In December 2009, China's State Council issued a decree stating that Hainan should become a world-class international tourist resort destination by 2020.
Total visitor arrivals in Hainan were at almost 26 million in 2010, representing a growth of 14 percent per year in the 15 years from 1995.
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