Quick: Name the location of this sandy-beach vista. Do I hear Hawaii? A Caribbean island, maybe? Somewhere in the South Pacific?
All good guesses – but all wrong. Believe it or not, it’s China. Specifically, it’s Hainan Island, also known as Sanya, at the southernmost end of the country. Hainan has been popular with wealthy Chinese nationals and is increasingly attracting high-net-worth Koreans and Russians, too. The island additionally has a favorable visa-free policy for nationals of the United States, Canada, and a few European countries, with more expected in the coming months.
The Chinese government wishes to further develop the island as a luxury tourism destination, along the lines of the French Riviera, with yachting as a focus. To that end, the 2010 Hainan Rendez-Vous will introduce an expected 3,000-plus people from all over Asia to the soon-to-be Chinese Riviera.
From April 2 to 4, the Visun Royal Yacht Club, the region’s first international-standard marina, will host the event. It will feature a private-jet show and luxury lifestyle and property showcase, in additional to a megayacht-only show. Still in the first phase of construction, Visun Royal Yacht Club anticipates having a few dozen out of several hundred slips devoted to megayachts when completed.
Builders such as Royal Huisman, Blohm + Voss, Lürssen, and the Azimut-Benetti group have confirmed participation, along with production builders like Sunseeker and Ferretti Yachts. While yacht names and models haven’t been released, the organizers say this marks the first time that superyachts exceeding 50 meters (164 feet) will be displayed in China. They also state that this will mark the largest number of yachts ever exhibited in the country’s waters. Engine and equipment manufacturers are expected to join the participating builders, as are several companies offering yachting-related services. The Hainan Rendez-Vous organizers further plan to hold a discussion forum about legal and environmental issues as well as nautical tourism.
“Hainan is determined to grow its marine and yachting industries as a key component of a wider tourism strategy,” says Luo Baoming, governor of Hainan Province. It’s interesting to note that Hainan already has sister-city relationships with 32 regions worldwide, including Hawaii here in the States, Prince Edward Island in Canada, the Balearics and Canary Islands in Spain, and Phuket in Thailand.
Cruising and the general yachting lifestyle are natural fits for the region, according to Du Living, the director of the Sanya Tourism Board. “Hainan is blessed with thousands of kilometers of beautiful coastline, a multitude of islands and a rich marine life. We will leverage these assets while at the same time conserving them for the benefit of this generation and for those to come.” The chairman of Visun Real Estate Group and co-organizer of the Hainan Rendez-Vous takes it a step further: “Hainan has the best coastline and the most beautiful waters in China, and the island has a truly unique maritime history.”