China will vigorously grow its cruise tourism market, push forward the building of Sanya in Hainan province as a home port of international cruises, and create a number of world-class cruise tourism destinations with distinguished features, a new guideline released on Aug 17 stated.
The country will promote cruise tourism development in cities such as Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Guangzhou in Guangdong province, Xiamen and Fuzhou in Fujian province, as well as Qingdao in Shandong province, and Dalian in Liaoning province, according to a guideline jointly released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and four other departments.
By 2025, China aims to preliminarily complete the building of an industrial system for the equipment of cruise ships and yachts, deliver domestically built large-sized cruise vessels, accelerate the manufacturing of mid-scale cruise vehicles, and achieve large-scale manufacturing of small-sized cruise boats and a wide range of yachts, the guideline stated.
China should continue to raise its ability in the research, development and manufacturing of cruise vessels, increase efforts to tackle key technical problems in overall design and construction, and improve capabilities in advanced manufacturing and engineering management, the guideline stated.
"The shipbuilding industry involves general assembly manufacturing and shipbuilding support systems. It is a large-scale equipment manufacturing industry that is highly complex and comprehensive," said Wesley Xiang, executive director of the China unit at consultancy Frost &Sullivan.
"The global shipbuilding industry has formed a new pattern of competition among China, South Korea and Japan. China leads the global market in terms of total orders, but lags behind South Korea in high value-added and high-tech shipbuilding," Xiang said.
In recent years, the development of cruise and yacht sectors in China has made substantial progress. Still, there are gaps between China and some developed markets, in terms of equipment industrialization, the maturity of the market and the level of popularity of the sector among consumers, the guideline stated.
With a long industrial chain, the cruise and yacht sectors are on a path of development, and will significantly drive the growth of related sectors. The task of improving the modern services sector and promoting the development of the marine economy in China, therefore, acquires great significance, the guideline stated.
Viking Cruises China is the China unit of Norwegian cruise line operator Viking Cruises. It is operating through a joint venture with China Merchants Group, which holds a controlling stake.
The company plans to launch new sailing itineraries on Sept 3.The service will depart from and return to Xiamen with a stopover in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province.
Between September and November, the cruise line will operate five routes in China. The ship, China Merchants-Yidun, is the first luxury cruise ship to bear the Chinese flag. It sailed its maiden voyage in October last year.
"We believe the Chinese cruise market has huge growth potential. We are confident of Viking riding this growth. We've attracted a good following of guests from top-tier cities and some second-tier cities," said Brendan Tansey, managing director of Viking Cruises China.
The guideline also noted that China will support the growth of premium domestic waterway tourism routes, especially in the Yangtze River, the Xijiang River and coastal areas.
Such trips should highlight features of related cities, like their local histories and cultures, natural landscapes and rural revitalization achievements.
In addition, China should launch more upgraded tourism products with themed voyages and customized services, the guideline said.