China's Hawaii eyes India's new rich
China's only tropical island city marketed as a Chinese Hawaii now wants to cash in on the Indian millionaire and desi weddings to sustain its artificial boom. Reshma Patil reportsworld Updated: Apr 20, 2011 23:44 IST
China's only tropical island city marketed as a Chinese Hawaii now wants to cash in on the Indian millionaire and desi weddings to sustain its artificial boom.
Sanya in southern Hainan province is the playground of China's super-rich who land here in private jets, gamble on golf courses, and buy holiday villas and yachts. Two decades ago, Sanya was a laidback fishing village. Today, the communist city of half a million people has only one major industry - luxury - modeled on outdoing Bali and Hawaii.
"We want rich Indians to invest in Sanya,'' Wang Dong Qing, vice-president Sanya Tourism Association, told HT. "We want to import famous Indian yoga teachers and we're pushing to get Indians to host traditional weddings on our island.''
Officials are negotiating with India for flights from Mumbai and Kolkata to land in Sanya via Shenzhen. "We can also send our jet to pick you up,'' said Wang. His office has Incredible India posters and a parking lot lined with BMWs and a Cadillac for clients.
Dozens of oversize luxury resorts and hundreds of unsold designer villas are spread across this coastline after Beijing declared it an 'international tourism destination' in 2009. But 90% of Sanya's nearly eight million tourists in 2010 were only upmarket Chinese. So officials responsible for attracting overseas visitors are eyeing the Indian economy growing second to China.
"The Indian market is huge for us,'' Tang Sixian, deputy director of Sanya Tourism Development Commission, told HT, in a theatre advertising Las Vegas dances. Last week, China hosted these fastest-growing economies and South Africa in Sanya, to give it a global dateline. Chinese negotiators insisted that the BRICS statement be released as the Sanya statement.
Last weekend, President Hu Jintao toured Hainan and urged officials to make it a "world-class holiday resort." Located a four-hour flight from Beijing, Sanya's a secluded haven for lavish holidays far from the notice of a Chinese middle-class growing critical of widening income divides in the world's fastest-growing economy.