SANYA, China, Dec. 12, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The 2023 China Tourism Group Development Forum was held in Shanghai from December 11-12. Sanya, a popular destination on the southern tip of China’s Hainan Island, has been selected as a model of tourism entrepreneurship and innovation for China in 2023 by the China Tourism Academy (“CTA”) due to its pioneering innovative models in destination tourism development.

The CTA, founded in 2008, has been at the forefront of promoting policy development and international exchange in the tourism industry. It has been instrumental in collecting exemplary cases of tourism entrepreneurship and innovation. Sanya’s inclusion as a model represents a beacon for other destinations seeking to embrace innovative approaches.

To better promote Sanya tourism globally, Sanya established the Sanya Tourism Promotion Board in 2020 — the nation’s sole dedicated agency for destination marketing and promotion. In 2023, the board evolved into the Sanya Tourism Board, leveraging its market-driven, specialized, and internationalized institutional mechanisms. The transformation aimed to explore new opportunities for the innovative development of Sanya tourism through market research, business conventions and awards ceremonies, festivals, media information, route development, tourists expansion and more.

Since its establishment, the Sanya Tourism Board has collaborated with travel-related enterprises within the Sanya economic zone, including accommodations, dining, transportation, attractions, duty-free shopping, and cruise industries. Meanwhile, in a bid to remain competitive among all global tourist destinations, the board has continually enhanced its core competencies by focusing on constructing a professional marketing system. This involves using a tourism data platform for market research, which helps to create targeted marketing strategies for specific customer groups and seize opportunities to grow the inbound tourism market. By closely linking and actively collaborating with enterprises, the Sanya Tourism Board has made significant contribution to the high-quality development of Sanya’s tourism industry.

In 2020, data analysis and market research revealed a notable shift towards a younger customer base. To cater to this demographic, Sanya launched a targeted marketing campaign, “Wonderland Sanya”, focusing on the travel interests and consumer preferences of this group. This campaign successfully drew a large number of young tourists to explore Sanya’s diverse attractions. Furthermore, Sanya collaborated with local tourism businesses to host innovative events such as the Sanya Tourism Festival, music festivals, concerts, art exhibitions, cultural and creative weeks, coffee festivals, diving festivals, and family seasons. These events not only showcased the city’s unique features but also stimulated tourist spending.

Albert Yip, the Director General of Sanya Tourism Board
Albert Yip, the Director General of Sanya Tourism Board

Furthermore, the Sanya Tourism Board has recruited outstanding talents with international perspectives and overseas work experience since its inception. The team, led by Albert Yip, the first globally recruited top executive in the Hainan Free Trade Port, consists of more than half of its members with overseas study or work backgrounds, proficient in languages such as English, Russian, French, German and Korean. With such a high-quality team, Sanya has effectively employed three strategies to boost its inbound tourism: subsidizing international routes, collaborating with top travel agencies, and enhancing global visibility via international media. This approach has successfully elevated Sanya’s global presence, attracting an increasing number of tourists from around the world.

The selection by CTA as an entrepreneurship and innovation in China model in 2023 not only recognizes Sanya’s achievements but also highlights the city’s pivotal role in shaping the future landscape of Chinese tourism. Such recognition comes as a testament to its efforts in market-oriented collaboration, professional marketing and putting together an internationalized team. The Sanya Tourism Board’s dedication has not only elevated Sanya’s profile but also set a benchmark for sustainable and innovative tourism development nationwide.