Ewa Stachurska on Hainan’s new era
Having emerged as the mainland’s leading yachting hub with professional marinas surrounded by international hotels and resorts, ‘China’s Hawaii’ is now enjoying a wave of government and overseas investment as a Free Trade Port, with zero tax on imported yachts.
The following Column by Ewa Stachurska of Simpson Marine appears in Issue 72 (click to read).
Lagoon 46, Hainan
Hainan Island has been long known for its pristine beaches, lush rainforests and sparkling blue waters, which have made China’s southernmost province a haven for Chinese tourists seeking a tropical getaway. Over the past two decades, most of the world’s leading hospitality groups have opened five-star hotels and resorts on the island, especially in and around the southern city of Sanya.
Meanwhile, the likes of Visun Royal Yacht Club (2005), Serenity Marina (2012), Shimei Bay Marina (2013) and Clearwater Bay Marina (2014) helped put Sanya on the yachting map, along with luxury lifestyle shows like the Hainan Rendez-Vous and high-profile visits by global sailing events like The Ocean Race and Clipper Race.
After encouraging growth, yachting activity started to flatten several years ago, but Hainan is now enjoying a second wave as a hub for local and international yachting enthusiasts. The recent uplift formally started on June 1, 2020, when Hainan was declared a free trade zone, subsequently renamed Free Trade Port, with policies designed to encourage foreign investors to enter the market.
Hainan’s Free Trade Port is the biggest among China’s 21 free trade zones, having overtaken Shenzhen and Shanghai’s Pudong. A total of 184 related policies have been implemented since 2018 and helped boost all industries, with a focus on science and technology, medical, high-end education, travel and retail sectors.
Clearwater Bay Marina, Sanya
Having seen the potential of the yachting market, among many other industries, the government has quickly helped develop the infrastructure needed to support its growth in Hainan, while also developing other complementary industries such as hospitality and tourism.
It has built new marinas and yacht clubs, expanded the port facilities and, most importantly, introduced zero-tariff yacht registration for imported yachts (and other products). Prior to becoming a Free Trade Port, Hainan imposed taxes and levies upwards of 38 per cent on imported yachts
– and such heavy taxes still apply for yachts imported into China’s other provinces.
The yachting industry in Hainan has had a positive impact on the local economy, creating jobs and bringing in much-needed revenue. Yacht charter and yacht leasing have been encouraged, with Hainan now acting as an example and a gateway to the rest of the mainland, where there remains immense potential for boats and yachts of all types and sizes. The country’s GDP could overcome USA’s by 2035, according to recent forecasts.
And China has long-terms plans for Hainan. The Free Trade Port’s development is still in Stage One entitled ‘Free and Convenient Trade & Investment in the Island’, which comprises four phases. Following ‘research and design’ (2018-2020) and ‘verification of the system effectiveness’ (2020-2022), the new policies are currently in the ‘stress test’ phase (2023-2025), with ‘full implementation’ commencing from 2025.
Atlantis Sanya Resort
Stage Two accounts for the following decade, so by 2035, the Hainan Free Trade Port should be offering a free and convenient flow of trade, investment, cross-border capital, people and transportation, as well as secure and orderly data transfers. Stage Three is focused on Hainan becoming a high-level Free Trade Port with a strong global influence by 2050.
SIMPSON WELL POSITIONED
Word has quickly spread among the yachting community, with Hainan’s appeal as a destination for boating lovers growing. The policies have encouraged yacht sales and services companies to increase their presence and operations in Hainan and most notably Sanya, where Simpson Marine operates its flagship China office in Serenity Marina.
Having operated in China for the past 15 years, Simpson Marine was particularly proud to successfully register Hainan’s first yacht imported under the new Free Trade Port policies. The brand-new Lagoon 46 sailing catamaran was delivered to Sanya in early 2021 and was followed by other yachts including two Sanlorenzo SX76 motor yachts delivered later that year to Chinese owners.
Today, yachts registered in Hong Kong and Macau can enter Hainan for 180 days tax-free and cruise in designated areas.
Sanlorenzo SX76, Hainan
Another major step was the opening this April of Sanya’s first public marina, the Sanya International Yacht Center, which then hosted the five-day Boating Sanya & Sanya International Wine and Spirits Fair to showcase locally based yachts and promote boating. Simpson Marine showed the Lagoon 46 and staged Hainan debuts of Beneteau’s Oceanis Yacht 54 sailing yacht and Antares 11 motorboat.
At the same time, in Haikou, our team was hosting a lounge at the five-day China International Consumer Products Expo, also known as Hainan Expo and renowned as the country’s biggest luxury products fair.
These are just two examples of how China is bouncing back after Covid and how Hainan is again a hub for major events, yachting and otherwise.
A few years back, an average boat purchase in Hainan required a pricy membership in one of the prestigious yacht clubs and a heavy import duty on the boat, which made it even more prohibitive for even wealthy buyers to own a yacht on the island. Today, the situation is changing and we’re eager to witness the long awaited and much talked about ‘yachting boom’ finally happening in this pioneering province.
Simpson Marine team at Haikou Expo 2023
And as the yachting industry in Hainan continues to grow, the island is poised to become a major player in the global yachting market. The province now allows brokerage yachts up to five years old to come and stay in Hainan, having previously only allowed such yachts up to a year old.
The new Sanya International Yacht Center along with Shimei Bay, Serenity, Clearwater Bay and Visun can all host FTP-registered foreign yachts, while the latter three have the facilities to accommodate superyachts up to about 60-70m.
Having operated in mainland China through its political and economic ups and downs, Simpson Marine has always hoped to see the mainland market thrive and live up to its potential. Furthermore, the increased connectivity between Hainan and Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area over the long term is encouraging for businesses in these areas.
With increasing world-class facilities and services, and stunning natural beauty, Hainan is the best place in mainland China for local and overseas yacht owners and enthusiasts to enjoy the yachting experience. And Simpson Marine is there to help you each step of the way.
Group Marketing Director of Simpson Marine, Ewa Stachurska has worked in the yachting industry since January 2007, specialising in marketing, strategic partnerships and business development. Having worked in Poland, France and China, she joined Simpson Marine in August 2015, working in Shanghai for a year before moving to the company’s headquarters in Hong Kong. Ewa oversees Simpson Marine’s corporate communication as well as marketing campaigns for Sanlorenzo, Bluegame, Fairline, Aquila, Beneteau and Lagoon. She is a Council Member (Charter Sector) of the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association and volunteers as a role model at the Inspiring Girls charitable organisation.