Leisure giants buoy cruise market

Updated: 2016-06-10 08:35

By Qiu Quanlin(China Daily Europe)

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In an earlier interview, Edie Rodriguez, president of Crystal Cruises, said wealthy travelers from China have emerged as the dominant force in the travel industry.

"We see great opportunities to deliver luxury cruise services to them," he said, adding that he predicts Crystal Cruises' share of Chinese travelers will be double the 2 percent of last year.

Genting, which is listed in Hong Kong and Singapore, bought Crystal Cruises in May last year. Crystal is regarded as the world's most-awarded luxury cruise line.

"We will launch new classes of vessels, including yachts and river boats, and offer ocean and flight travel-like experience," Rodriguez said.

According to Ctrip, the Chinese online travel agency, more than 2 million Chinese passengers will travel overseas via cruises in 2017, with destinations covering Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States.

In addition, other global cruise operators will boost their services in the Chinese market, with more lines to be opened soon.

Nanfang Daily, a newspaper based in Guangzhou, reported that Costa Cruises would add three new cruises in its Shanghai homeports by 2020. It launched a vessel service in the city in April. Royal Caribbean International has said it will also introduce a homeport service in China this month.

Michael Thamm, chief executive of Costa Cruises, says China will likely overtake the US to become the world's largest cruise market in the next decade.

He says his company's business revenue has increased 40 to 50 percent year-on-year on average in China since launching its Chinese operations in 2006.

"We'll continue to invest in China, aiming to get quickly integrated into the Chinese market," says Thamm, adding that the company is talking with Chinese authorities to establish joint ventures in the fast-growing market. "We'll introduce the largest fleet in China in the near future."

China's cruise industry, which began services in 2005, is mostly dominated by foreign operators, which provide more than 90 percent of products in the Chinese market, according to the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association.

"Foreign operators need to further understand Chinese travelers' needs and offer tailored services," says Zheng Weighing, deputy director of the association, who added that the Chinese cruise market has gathered pace thanks to more high-end services being offered.


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