Directive gives impetus to cruise tourism

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Tourists cruise the waters of Xiamen in Fujian province. [Photo by Zhou Daoxian/for China Daily]

China will vigorously expand its cruise tourism market, push ahead with the construction of Sanya in Hainan Province as a homeport for international cruises, and create a series of world-class cruise tourism destinations with outstanding features, according to a new policy released on Wednesday.

The country will encourage the development of cruise tourism in cities such as Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Guangzhou in Guangdong Province, Xiamen and Fuzhou in Fujian Province, as well as Qingdao in Shandong Province and Dalian in Liaoning Province, according to a policy released jointly by das Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and four other departments.

By 2025, China aims to tentatively complete the construction of an industrial system for cruise ship and yacht equipment, supply domestically-built large cruise ships, speed up the manufacture of mid-size cruise ships, and achieve large-scale production of smaller-large cruise ships and a wide range of yachts, it says in the directive.

China should further increase its cruise ship R&D and manufacturing capabilities, step up efforts to address key technical issues in overall design and construction, and improve its advanced manufacturing and technical management capabilities, the policy said.

“The shipbuilding industry includes the manufacture of general assemblies and support systems for shipbuilding. It is a highly complex and comprehensive large-scale equipment manufacturing industry,” said Wesley Xiang, executive director of the China unit of consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

“The global shipbuilding industry has created a new competitive pattern between China, South Korea and Japan. China leads the global market in terms of total orders, but lags behind South Korea in high-value and high-tech shipbuilding,” Xiang said.

In recent years, the development of the cruise and yacht sector in China has made significant progress. Still, there are gaps between China and some developed markets in terms of equipment industrialization, market maturity and degree of popularity of the sector among consumers, the guideline said.

With a long chain of industries, the cruise and yacht sectors are on a development path and will greatly fuel the growth of related sectors. The task of improving the modern service sector and promoting the development of the maritime economy in China is therefore of great importance, the guideline states.

Viking Cruises China is the China unit of Norwegian cruise company Viking Cruises. It is operated through a joint venture with China Merchants Group, which holds a majority stake.

The company plans to launch new sailing routes on September 3. The service will depart and return to Xiamen with a stopover in Zhoushan, Zhejiang Province.

Between September and November, the cruise line will operate five routes in China. The ship, China Merchants-Yidun, is the first luxury cruise ship to fly the Chinese flag. She started her maiden voyage in October last year.

“We believe that the Chinese cruise market has enormous growth potential. We are confident that Viking will support this growth. We have attracted a good following of guests from first tier cities and some second tier cities,” said Brendan Tansey, Managing Director of Viking Cruises China.

The policy also noted that China will support the growth of world-class inland waterways, particularly in the Yangtze River, Xijiang River and coastal areas.

Such trips should highlight characteristics of related cities, such as their local history and culture, natural landscapes and achievements in rural revitalization.

In addition, China should launch more upgraded tourism products with themed travel and customized services, the policy said.

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