|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. (File photo)|
Chinese 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.