China's cruise tourism industry sees promising revival

(Xinhua) 08:27, October 10, 2023

This aerial photo taken on Sept. 22, 2023 shows the cruise ships "Mediterranea" and "Dream" docked at a port in north China's Tianjin Municipality. (Xinhua)

TIANJIN, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Boasting Mediterranean-style décor, global cuisine and boutique shopping, the cruise ship "Mediterranea" left north China's Tianjin on Sept. 30 for Sasebo and Fukuoka in Japan, among other spots, providing an ideal holiday getaway.

Guo Jia, director of business development of Adora Cruises, which operated the cruise, said that the ship carried more than 2,500 passengers on departure, which was close to full capacity.

"The 'Mediterranea' will make four voyages in October to meet the demand of tourists from north China," Guo added.

A tourist surnamed Xu decided to spend the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday on the cruise, together with his family. "It's the first time that our family has spent a holiday on a cruise, which is a special experience for us," explained Xu.

One tour-group leader said that the resurgence of China's cruise tourism industry has attracted many new and old customers, most of whom travelled as a family unit, with more elderly people and children taking part.

On Sept. 19, China's Ministry of Transport announced the full resumption of international cruise ship transport to and from ports in the country.

The ministry said in a notice that local transport authorities at the ports where cruise ships dock should formulate plans for restoring international cruise transportation and proceed with the work of resumption after obtaining approval from local governments.

The voyages now being undertaken by many cruise ships demonstrate the rapid post-pandemic recovery of China's cruise tourism industry.

On Sept. 27, the cruise ship "Dream" left its home port of Tianjin for a voyage to the island of Jeju, the Republic of Korea. On Sept. 29, the cruise ship "Blue Dream Star" set sail from Qingdao, carrying nearly 1,000 passengers on a journey to the island of Jeju and east China's Shanghai.

"China's international cruise tourism sector is fully recovering step by step," said Ye Xinliang, deputy dean of the School of Management, Shanghai University of Engineering Science.

Chu Jiayi, head of Tianjin Nebula Holiday International Travel Agency, said that once the cruise-operation plan for the "Mediterranea" was released, they cooperated with the cruise company and booked some of the tickets in advance for sales. "We sold all of our booked tickets in early September. Most of the tourists came from outside Tianjin," Chu said.

As the largest cruise home port in northern China, Tianjin International Cruise Home Port has received over 880 international cruise ships and handled more than 4.26 million inbound and outbound passengers.

Dong Zichen, deputy general manager of Tianjin International Cruise Home Port Co., Ltd., said that from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6, the home port received five international cruise ships and about 12,000 tourists.

Cruise ship "Blue Dream Star" is pictured at a port in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, before setting sail for the Republic of Korea with nearly 1,000 tourists, in this aerial photo taken on Sept. 29, 2023. (Xinhua/Li Ziheng)

According to the Tianjin General Station of Immigration Inspection, with the full recovery of the city's cruise tourism, 30 international cruise ships will dock at and depart from Tianjin port by the end of December this year. The total number of crew members and tourists is expected to reach 100,000.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) says that the cruise continues to be one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry. The number of ocean-going cruise passengers is expected to reach 31.5 million in 2023, and 39.5 million by 2027.

Some international cruise companies have expressed their confidence in the Chinese cruise market.

Liu Zinan, chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises Asia, said the company launched the 2024 international cruise line from Shanghai on June 29. The number of bookings for cruise tickets on the first day was twice the previous high. After a month and a half, the direct sales channel had already met the previously set annual sales target.

"It took less than two months for the travel agency channel to complete the ticket booking and advance payment for all voyages sailing during 2024 and 2025," Liu said.

Zheng Weihang, executive vice president and secretary general of the China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association, said that after two to three years of recovery, China's cruise market will usher in the "second golden development decade," showing the common development of the whole industry chain.

"We look forward to taking the resumption of cruise ships as an opportunity to accelerate the attraction of international shipping capacity, the development of cruise lines, the innovation of cruise products, the expansion of cruise ship supply, and the competition for attracting passengers, to promote the high-quality development of the cruise industry in Tianjin as well as the northern region in China," Dong said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Wu Chaolan)


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