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In Focus: Seatrade Cruise Asia

China striving for 'rapid development,’ plans to build more cruise ships

Hong Wang said 'China's economy is highly resilient, has great potential and is full of vitality' on Oct. 26 during Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific in Hong Kong
Coordinated development of cruising between Hong Kong and Shanghai is planned, and widespread construction of large-scale cruise ships in China is on the horizon, as the country sets ambitious cruise industry goals. 

Opening ‘The China Effect’ session at Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific in Hong Kong (October 24-26) Prof. Hong Wang, president, China Europe International Business School and director, Shanghai International Cruise Business Institute, said, ‘China is the only country that promotes the development of the entire cruise industry chain and is the most important cruise economic region in Asia Pacific. 

‘The serial construction of domestic, large-scale cruise ships is just around the corner. 

‘In the future, my country’s cruise construction supply chain will gradually increase, and the Asia Pacific cruise ship supply base will be built.’ 

She went on to say China is strengthening innovation for cruise ships and accelerating the development of high-quality equipment, as well as promoting the application of clean energy. 

The central government continues to increase its support for cruising, noted Wang, with various plans connected with cruising in the region being planned since March 29. 

A ‘glorious’ chapter

‘China's economy is highly resilient, has great potential and is full of vitality, and its long-term positive fundamentals will not change,’ Wang stated. ‘We firmly believe that in the tide of satisfying the people's yearning for a better life, China's cruise industry will once again write a glorious new chapter in the practice of originality and continuous innovation, win-win cooperation with the international cruise industry, and become a global cruise industry chain.’ 

The cruise tourism market is expected to reach 31.5m passengers in 2023 and by 2027, the number of cruise tourists is expected to reach 39m, she said. ‘During this important period of strategic opportunities, we need to actively expand the international market with a more ambitious vision and a more pragmatic attitude, continue to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with international cruise companies, and meet challenges with a more open mind and a more enterprising spirit… and strive to achieve the rapid development, upgrading and transformation of my country's cruise industry.’ 

The first domestically produced large-scale cruise ship, Adora Magic City, will set sail from Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Port on January 1, 2024. 

Developing homeports 

The professor explained there be multi-homeport routes between Shanghai and Hong Kong: ‘Realize that the ports on the Shanghai-Hong Kong cruise route serve as each other's home ports, diversity the sources of tourists on the same cruise, significantly increase the freedom of tourists to board and disembark … and, at the same time, promote a typical two-way division of outbound and inbound tourism,’ she said. 

Wang also recommended multi-home port route products in Hong Kong, Xiamen, Shanghai and Taiwan ‘to achieve interconnected and coordinated development of cruises in these places.’ 

Promoting talent, building financial services 

Wang suggested cooperation to establish a complete cruise financial services system to broaden the investment and financing of cruise ships. 

She went on to list the ways talent within the cruise industry can be developed, among them, to create a talent pool for the cruise industry that includes design and manufacturing, operations and high-end services, as well as develop core courses and premium courses for cruise majors. 

Industry green paper 

Wang later presented the new 2023 ‘China Cruise Industry Development Report,’ a series of research reports outlining the development of China's cruise industry and ‘a window for the international cruise industry to understand China.’ It was produced jointly by the Shanghai International Cruise Economic Research Center, Shanghai University of Engineering and Technology and China Europe International Business School. 

The speech was followed by a ‘Prospects for Reigniting Growth in the China Source Market’ presentation from Ted Blamey, principal, CHART Management Consultants, who described the outlook for China and the entire East Asia as ‘promising.’ 

Outlook: 2023-25

Delivering the region’s outlook for 2023-2025, he said the decision in August to lift the ban on group travel to numerous countries – including the Republic of Korea and Japan – will ‘result in attracting big international ships to return to home-porting in China, and new deployment by the upscale and luxury lines.’ He said this will result in ‘activity returning to the many cruise terminals in China and Hong Kong with multiple turnarounds, transit calls by internationals throughout the region, a big boost to Jeju, Busan and other South Korea ports and re-growth of the China source market.’ 

He looked at the history of cruising in Asia, delved into cruise lines’ planned activity in the region and described the ‘many’ modern cruise terminals built by the Chinese government. 

Panel discussion

Blamey moderated a panel discussion on 'The China Effect' that saw Sharon Yuen, director, North and North-Eastern China, Hong Kong Tourism Board echo Wang’s sentiments: ‘The Chinese government is very supportive in terms of reactivating the cruise business,’ she said, before describing domestic travel within China over the last few months as having been ‘successful.’ 

Helen Huang, president, Greater China, MSC Cruises, said ‘Guest satisfaction has to be the top priority’ when it comes to developing the cruise industry in China.  

Zinan Liu, EVP and chairman, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Asia, said the cruise line will be the one to drive the revival of the Asia cruise industry.