(Yicai Global) April 16 -- China’s government has drawn up plans to establish Hainan province as a national sports tourism demonstration area, making the southern island a hub for beach and water sports training, as well as the possible introduction of horse racing and gambling.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, has published a policy document discussing how to support the introduction of horse racing and betting especially for larger sporting events held in the province, which has been the subject of extensive tourist-related investment since 2015.
Hainan’s total tourist numbers have more than doubled to 67.45 million from 33.2 million since 2015, with total tourism revenue increasing to CNY81.2 billion from CNY37.91 billion. Over 1 million domestic tourists visited the island last year.
The development of horse-racing and betting will depend on the specific rules introduced and the overall environment to support tourism-related constructed in Hainan, the head of an energy firm told Yicai Global.
The province’s authorities set out three medium- and long-term goals for the tourism sector’s development last year: to become a national tourism island by 2020, a world-class island leisure resort by 2025 and to become the world’s leading international tourist destination by 2030. It aims to receive 150 million tourists by 2030, generating CNY300 billion in revenues.
The draft paper also puts forward the development of Hainan’s local culture and other related sectors. Investors are particularly concerned with the development of horse racing and other sports as well as gambling in Hainan, which are potential unique selling-points of the island. Some 70 percent of tourists to Macau, where such activities are legal, are from Chinese Mainland. For Hainan, it would be difficult to attract overseas tourists in the short-term so the key to growth lies in bringing more mainland Chinese tourists.
“The promotion of horse racing in China has always been a contradiction,” says Liu Simin, vice president of the tourism branch of China Society for Future Studies, adding that while some 1.2 million people watch the sport in the special administrative region of Hong Kong each day and make bets, lottery activities are presided over by the state in the mainland.
Editor: William Clegg