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S China province expands duty-free program

(Xinhua)

16:32, November 01, 2012

HAIKOU, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- South China's Hainan province on Thursday launched an expanded version of its duty-free purchase program in order to encourage more Chinese to buy imported luxury items at home.

The new policy raises the duty-free purchase limit to 8,000 yuan (about 1,259 U.S. dollars) from 5,000 yuan, allowing customers to spend up to 8,000 yuan per visit for two visits each year.

It also adds beauty and health care products, tableware, kitchenware and toys to the list of duty-free product categories and lowers the minimum purchasing age from 18 to 16.

Liu Pingzhi, provincial chief of finance, said the new purchase limit will allow Chinese customers to purchase most of the luxury items they desire, according to market research.

The State Council gave Hainan permission to implement the duty-free program on a trial basis in April 2011 as part of efforts to promote the province as an international tourist destination.

The World Luxury Association announced in January that China has outstripped Japan to become the world's largest luxury goods market.

Provincial customs data showed that over 1.28 million tourists have benefited from the program thus far, with sales totaling more than 2.7 billion yuan.

The province has two duty-free shops. One is located in the provincial capital of Haikou, while the other is in the resort city of Sanya.

Staff at the Haikou duty-free store said they are working to replenish their stock to prepare for larger purchases under the expanded program.
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