Chinese tourists love cruises

Chinese tourists cruising - China Elite FocusChinese tourists are beginning to shift their gaze from the landscape on the mainland to the blue ocean, after China’s tourism administration decided to make 2013 the Year of Marine Tourism. A variety of marine holidays are driving new demand.
A voyage on a cruise ship is gaining popularity among Chinese tourists. At the beginning of this year, Henna, the first passenger liner based on the Chinese mainland set sail from Sanya, marking China’s entry into the world cruise ship tourism market. At the same time, cruise liner giants including Royal Caribbean, Star Cruises and Costa are stepping up their offers in an attempt to attract Chinese customers.
In October SuperStar Gemini, a 50,000-ton passenger cruise vessel of Star Cruises, started its first trip from southeast China’s Xiamen city to Taiwan. According to official statistics, more than 40,000 cross-Strait passengers travelled on 23 cruise liners this year.
In November, China implemented new measures easing sailing restrictions to support border tourism projects by the passenger liners cruising between China’s Hainan Island and Vietnam. Under the new policy, all Chinese citizens can use an entry and exit permit that can be applied for in Sanya and Haikou to join a cruise.
China is ahead of other markets in the growth of cruise ship holidays. During the six years from 2006 to 2012, the number of voyages made by international cruise vessels departing from Chinese mainland ports or carrying Chinese passengers grew sevenfold.
Cruise ship tourism may contribute an estimated 51 billion yuan (nearly 8.4 billion U.S. dollars) to the Chinese economy by 2020. Currently, more than 10 cities along China’s coastline have built or are planning to build world-class hubs for cruise ships.
China has five major coastal tourist resorts – on Bohai Bay, in the Yangtze River Delta, in the Pearl River Delta, on the coast on the west side of the Taiwan Strait, and on Hainan Island.
At present, China’s marine tourism industry focuses on sightseeing, health vacations, water sports, adventure, and pop-science. Leisure fishing and cruise voyages will complement the overall structure of China’s marine tourism.
Coastal tourist resorts are trying to combine culture with natural scenery. Southeast China’s Fujian province is carrying out pilots to incorporate the Hakka culture and sea silk culture in its marine tourism programs. Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Institute, suggests that the marine tourism industry should try to capture the attention of the younger generation with innovative cultural ideas.


Royal Caribbean Cruises target Chinese tourists

Royal Caribbean International has entered into a strategic relationship with the Xiamen municipal government and China World Cruises (CWC) in China that involves CWC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing-based property and theme park developer Shan-Hai-Shu, chartering Legend of the Seas for a total of four months in 2012.

During the four months, Royal Caribbean International will operate and market 21, three- to eight-night sailings from Xiamen, as well as Shanghai, Tianjin and Hong Kong, to ports of call in Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and Korea. The inaugural, five-night charter sailing will depart from Hong Kong on March 20, 2012, while the first departure of guests from Xiamen will be on March 26.

The time charter agreement is fully supported by the Xiamen Municipal Government as part of the government’s development of Xiamen as the fourth cruise home port for Royal Caribbean International in China, following Shanghai, Tianjin and Hong Kong.

“This is an incredible opportunity for Royal Caribbean International, the Xiamen municipal government and China World Cruises, and is truly unique to the fast growing cruise industry in Asia,” says Dr. Zinan Liu, group managing director for China and Asia, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are the first cruise brand to bring together the support of the government and local private industry.”

Working with the Xiamen municipal government, Xiamen-based CWC aims to invest around $5 billion in the Xiamen waterfront area and harbour district to develop a “Cruise Homeport City”, with a theme park, retail units, luxury hotels, condominiums, as well as a new, four-berth cruise terminal. Xiamen is located between Shanghai and Hong Kong, is less than 200 miles from Taipei, Taiwan, and is one of the most important and fastest growing ports along the Chinese coast.

“China holds amazing opportunities for the cruise industry, including port infrastructure development to attracting vacationers from around the world,” says Michael Bayley, executive vice president of International for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “These are exciting times and we are delighted to be working with the Xiamen Municipal Government and China World Cruises on this strategic arrangement.”

Legend of the Seas is an award-winning, 1,804 double occupancy ship that has been operating in Asia, out of Singapore since 2008 and out of Shanghai since 2010.

“We believe Royal Caribbean International is the right cruise brand to work with in developing the cruise industry in China,” says George Buge Zhang, President of China World Cruises. “In just a few years, they’ve established themselves as the market leader and proven they understand local market conditions and Chinese guests’ needs and preferences.”

The strategic relationship with the Xiamen municipal government and China World Cruises follows the announcement in June that Royal Caribbean International willdeploy the 3,114 double occupancy Voyager of the Seas to China in June 2012.Offering a wide variety of itineraries, ranging from four to eight nights, Voyager of the Seas will double the size of any cruise ship operating in China, and in the Asia-Pacific region.

Spanning 14 passenger decks and with 1,556 staterooms, Voyager of the Seas will start its Asia 2012 season with a sailing from Singapore, followed by itineraries out of Shanghai (Baoshan) and Tianjin, to ports including Fukuoka and Kobe in Japan, and Busan and Jeju in Korea until October. Voyager of the Seas will begin 14-night sailings from Sydney, Australia on November 24, 2012 to ports in Australia and New Zealand, while itineraries in early 2013 will include stops in Tasmania and the South Pacific.