The government of China's southmost island province of Hainan disclosed Wednesday that it would roll out a series of plans to develop its sports-driven tourism industry this year, which would set the path for the development of its much-anticipated horse racing industry, The Paper reported.
Among the set of plans to be released is a document titled the Guiding Opinions on the Development of the Sport of Horse Racing in Hainan, which again puts this much-hyped topic under the spotlight.
Despite the public speculation since last summer that the local government would develop a gambling-surrounded horse racing industry like what is going on in Hong Kong, experts familiar with the matter disclosed to the media that the provincial government of Hainan would treat horse racing as a pure sports activity without the involvement of gambling.
Back in early November last year, the local government said that it had conducted in-depth research over the launch of horse racing on the island with a specific plan for the issue in the making.
However, the government appeared to downplay the subject just two weeks later as people familiar with the matter hinted that the said plan was unlikely to come out in two years.
The topic went back to center stage two months later as the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released an implementation plan for Hainan to grow into an international tourism and consumption hub, which calls for the development of horse racing, among other sports.
Apart from horse racing, the set of plans to be drafted will also involve issues including the building of a national sports and tourism demonstration zone as well as the development of water and beach sports.
As a key pillar of the island's economy, Hainan's tourism industry contributed a total of 9.5 billion yuan (1.4 billion U.S. dollars) to local revenues by receiving over 76.27 million tourist visits last year.