Government and Policy

Refund for overseas shoppers in Hainan

Updated: 2010-12-31 13:58

By Bao Chang (China Daily European Weekly)

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Island visitors can reclaim 11 percent of purchases

Overseas tourists to Hainan province will be able to reclaim taxes paid on purchases, including clothes and cosmetics, from New Year's Day as part of plans to turn the tropical island into an international travel and shopping paradise.

The policy, approved by the State Council, applies to travelers from foreign countries and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, who buy goods worth more than 800 yuan (92 euros) in one day at a single department store in Hainan. They can then apply for a tax rebate of 11 percent of the total price of their purchases, effective from Jan 1.

Hainan provincial government will name at least two department stores as pilot shops on Jan 1.

The island, with a land mass slightly bigger than the Netherlands, is a popular destination domestically and internationally and plays an increasingly significant role as the country boosts its tourism appeal.

"The policy, in essence, is to provide overseas tourists coming to Hainan with goods at a low price, to stimulate consumption and drive tourism, the pillar industry of our province," Lu Yong, vice-director at the island's finance department, said on Dec 27.

Overseas tourists can obtain a value added tax refund at the island's Haikou Meilan International Airport or the Sanya Phoenix International Airport before leaving China.

The policy covers the purchase of 21 categories of goods, including garments, footwear, headwear, electronic appliances and cosmetics. Purchases in renminbi and other currencies are covered.

The policy stems from a provincial government proposal in 2009. The State Council backed it and announced plans to develop Hainan into an international resort island and China's second largest international shopping destination, after Hong Kong.

According to the State Council, Hainan will be a destination reflecting global standards for traveling and shopping services, management and human resources by 2020.

"With the support of the new policy, tourist shopping will account for 40 percent of all revenue spent by travelers in Hainan province next year, up from the current 20 percent," Wang Keqiang, deputy director of the island's commerce department, told China Daily.

Hainan is China's largest special economic zone. In the first 11 months of 2010, 596,600 overseas visitors traveled to the island, spending 1.94 billion yuan.

Nationwide, 122 million trips by overseas travelers contributed $31.6 billion (24 billion euros) to the economy.

"The implementation of the new policy is one part of the central government's development plans for Hainan," Lu said, adding that innovation is the key to promoting the island as a globally famous resort.

Lu said the policy will also help improve the country's system of refunding taxes on exported goods.

Shanghai is working on a similar plan to give a tax rebate to foreign shoppers, in a move to attract overseas spenders, said an official with the local commerce commission on Dec 29.

"Now that Beijing has given a green light to Hainan, we don't see why we can't get the nod too," said Chen Yuxian, deputy head of the Industry Supervision Department of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

Unlike Hainan, which will implement the policy on all parts of the island, the tax refund in Shanghai will be limited to certain department stores, the official said.


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