China's economy is set to rebound this year, and Haikou, the core area of Hainan Free Trade Port, is speeding up economic development, according to Ding Hui, mayor of Haikou and a deputy to the National People's Congress.
This year, China's GDP growth target has been set at around 5 percent, which "fully reflects the resilience of China's economic development and gives us great confidence", he said.
Hainan set its GDP growth target this year at around 9.5 percent, giving it the highest growth target among all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions.
"Hainan's economy and society are expected to be on the fast track of steady, high-quality development in 2023, and Haikou will take the initiative and endeavor to achieve an annual GDP growth of almost 10 percent this year," Ding said.
Haikou's economic aggregate accounts for one-third of the provincial total, with its population accounting for 30 percent of Hainan.
The 2023 Government Work Report noted that steady progress has been made in turning Hainan into a free trade port and also stressed that expanding consumption remains a priority.
Haikou is accelerating the establishment of an international tourism center, Ding said, by improving the quality of spending opportunities and holding a series of spending activities.
Haikou's tourism and culture market witnessed a rapid recovery in the first quarter. During the seven-day Spring Festival holiday, the city received more than 1.22 million tourists, a year-on-year increase of 26.2 percent.
Last week, 90,000 tickets for three upcoming concerts in Haikou were snapped up within 10 seconds. Nearly 40 percent of ticket buyers came from outside the province.
With the travel boom, Haikou has quickly harnessed the potential of duty-free shopping, Ding said. Retail sales at duty-free stores in the first quarter are expected to reach 8.34 billion yuan ($1.2 billion), an increase of 80 percent year-on-year.
In addition, to meet the goals of "cultivating and strengthening strategic emerging industries "and "accelerating the construction of a modern industrial system" in the Government Work Report, Haikou aims to make its key industrial parks bigger and better.
" Industrial parks are important platforms for economic growth and promoting industrial optimization and upgrading," Ding said.
Among the 11 key industrial parks in the Hainan FTP, Haikou has four, including the National High-Tech Industrial Development Zone and Fullsing Internet Industrial Park, that account for 46.9 percent of investment and 41.3 percent of tax revenue of the city, despite using less than 10 percent of the land.
Each park has its own focus, with industries including finance, modern services, medicine, medical equipment, manufacturing and digital intelligence.
"Haikou will use these parks' resources, first-class business environment and efficient gathering of productive factors to carry out investment promotions targeting members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership," Ding said.
Haikou is concentrating on the creation of an international aviation hub to serve the Pacific and the Indian oceans. It also has three ports — Xiuying Port, South Port and Xinhai Port — which connect Hainan with the rest of the country. Passenger and cargo routes from Haikou to airport hubs in RCEP and ASEAN member states "are gradually resuming and encouraging economic and trade exchanges", Ding said.
The China International Consumer Products Expo, one of the four major national exhibitions, is held in Haikou.
"We'll make full use of this international exchange platform to promote the city and its industries, organize economic and trade talks and business inspections, and we hope to turn exhibitors into investors," Ding said.
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