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China's cruise tourism market growing 30 percent annually

By Li Ling (People's Daily Overseas Edition)

15:39, May 03, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

(People's Daily Overseas Edition)

Various commemorative activities and the 3-D re-release of the epic romantic movie "Titanic" has made the cruise ship that sank 100 years ago again a hot topic.Surprisingly, domestic travel agencies did not use the 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking as a gimmick to promote their products.

"After years of development, our cruise products have matured, and have their own distinct position. Furthermore, cruise products are in excessive supply, and we cannot change their right position simply because of the anniversary," an employee at a travel agency explained.

Cruise tourism was introduced into China less than 10 years ago. In its early stages, the domestic industry only offered cruises to Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand through relatively small ships. Sun Lichan, marketing manager at Chinese travel distributor operated by Hua Yuan International Travel Company, recalled that Tianjin became the only home port for cruise ships in northern China in 2007.

In the following year, Hua Yuan Travel leased two Costa cruise ships, and enjoyed great market success, but the two ships were relatively small, and each could carry only 900 passengers. Cruise ships have become increasingly large and luxurious in recent years, with a growing number of destinations such as the United States and European countries. Cruises from China to Japan and South Korea are the most popular products among the Chinese people, while the market for long cruises to the United States and European countries remains small.

"China's cruise tourism market has been growing 30 percent annually, and still has great potential," said the director of cruise tourism at Chinese travel agency Ctrip.

Zhang Mingwei, director of cruise tourism at Beijing UTour International Travel Service Company, said that domestic cruise products are mostly short six- to eight-day cruises from domestic home ports such as Guangdong and Shanghai to other Asian countries, and are great for old tourists and first-timers.
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