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Short cruises the mainstay for China market for forseeable future

Short cruises the mainstay for China market for forseeable future
While the China market holds great potential, there are also some impediments that are restricting growth. Among the key points mentioned by speakers at the Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific 2014 Conference in Hong Kong are the relatively short holiday periods in China and the resulting seasonality this causes.

'The biggest challenge for us is seasonality because holidays are taken in spikes such as Chinese New Year and the Spring holidays," said Silversea Cruises Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific president Steve Odell.

'Seasonality is becoming less of a problem as the taking of paid annual leave becomes a more common practice (as work practices in China modernise),' said Zinan Liu, vp Royal Caribbean Cruises China & North Asia. 'However short cruises will still be the main strength for some time to come,' he added.

'It is a constraining factor, but we hope that over time as vacations get more embedded in the culture and cruising becomes more established that there will be longer vacations and more flexibility to take them which will clearly help the cruise industry in China,' said Anthony Kaufman, svp Asia for Princess Cruises.

'We've seen changes in terms of seasonality,' said Costa Crociere's Buhdy Bok, svp Asia Pacific & China. 'It used to be pretty distinct but it has levelled out in the last few years so I think that is a good sign,' he added.

'The role that Star Cruises plays is to offer shorter, teaser cruises such as over the weekend,' said Genting Hong Kong evp sales, marketing & hotel operations Ang Moo Lim.

As a result, the amount of holidays Chinese customers get is slightly less relevant, he commented.

However the potential of the market remains high. All the speakers agreed on a forecast of 3-4m Chinese passengers by 2020, up from the current 730,000.