Hainan is an island and the southernmost province of the People’s Republic of China. In olden days the Chinese people traditionally believed that Hainan was the world’s southernmost landmass, and its southernmost shore was called the Tian-ya Hai-jiao (edge of Heaven, corner of Sea), deemed a place of exile for Imperial Dynasty officials that fell out of favor, and later for sympathizers of the Republic in the early days of Communist rule. Today it is a rising tropical tourism destination and duty-free zone, reflected in China’s offering of visa-free tourism travel to the island for several countries, including the Philippines.
CNN Philippines reports that the Chinese State Immigration Administration has just announced a list of 59 countries that will be offered travel access to the island province of Hainan without the need for a visa, for a 30-day period, starting on May 1. The Philippines was one of the countries listed according to the Xinhua state news agency. The State Immigration Administration remarks that the visa-free travel access to Hainan is a move to support reform and an opening-up for the island province in terms of tourism and the economy.
The nations given this visa-free 30-day travel to Hainan are the following: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, PHILIPPINES, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States. These countries were listed in the official tourism page for Hainan.
Perhaps part of the factors leading to the inclusion of the Philippines here might be a recent visit this month by President Rodrigo Duterte to Hainan, particularly its east-coast town of Boao which is the permanent venue for what is considered to be the Asian-centric version of the World Economic Forum, the Boao Forum for Asia. At the same time he also had a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The announcement of the new list of countries with visa-free access to Hainan was made two weeks later.
China giving visa-free travel privileges to Hainan began in 2000, when the Immigration Administration listed 21 countries which received that right for a 15-day stay. In the year 2010 five more nations were added to the list, and they have been increasing over the years.
Hainan province is proving no slouch as a tourism destination, thanks to its tropical climate unlike that of the mainland. In 2017 there has been a recorded 1.1 million international tourists who went to Hainan according to Xinhua news agency.