Cruise op­er­a­tors con­fi­dent of fu­ture

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS CANADA - ByWANGWEN wang­wen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the world’s sec­ond-largest cruise op­er­a­tor, still expects to grow its busi­ness in China this year de­spite a gen­eral slow­downin the sec­tor in the coun­try and world­wide, ac­cord­ing to its re­gional pres­i­dent.

Liu Zi­nan, the com­pany’s pres­i­dent for China and North Asia, said the firm has en­joyed 80 to 90 per­cent an­nual growth na­tion­ally in re­cent years.

Both pas­sen­ger vol­umes and in­come have in­creased, he said, with­out the need to cut its prices.

“This cheer­ful per­for­mance in­China has re­paid our in­vest­ment here,” he said.

Royal Caribbean is now bas­ing its new­est and most ad­vanced cruise liner in China. The gi­ant 168,000-ton Quan­tum of the Seas has been op­er­at­ing from here since July, and is be­lieved to be the largest ever cruise ship to be ser­viced in the coun­try.

By next June, its Ova­tion of the Seas, cur­rently be­ing built in Ger­many, will be also based here, Liu said.

The op­er­a­tor plans to run five in­di­vid­ual cruises next year from Tian­jin, Shang­hai, Xi­a­men and Hong Kong to Tai­wan, Ja­pan, South Korea and Viet­nam.

“This in­vest­ment into China shows just how we value the mar­ket,” Liu said.

China’s cruise­mar­ket­washit hard ear­lier this year byMid­dle East Res­pi­ra­tory Syn­drome, or MERS, out­break in South Korea — the main des­ti­na­tion for Chi­nese cruise traf­fic.

Up to two mil­lion Chi­nese res­i­dents are ex­pected to take an out­bound cruise this year, which rep­re­sents more than 40 per­cent of the to­tal Asian mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to the China Cruise­andYacht In­dus­tryAs­so­ci­a­tion. The as­so­ci­a­tion’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral Zheng Wei­hang expects 613 voy­ages from the Chi­nese main­land, a 31.5 per­cent rise on last year.

“Cruise travel has be­come a new growth point of do­mes­tic con­sump­tion in China, and the industry will con­tinue to boom in the next 10 years,” Zheng said.

Com­pe­ti­tion for pas­sen­gers, how­ever, is also be­com­ing more in­tense.

Car­ni­val Cruise Lines, the world’s largest op­er­a­tor, is plan­ning to dou­ble its Chi­nese voy­ages by 2017, by of­fer­ing two more classes of ser­vice.

The Bri­tish com­pany also signed a joint ven­ture agree­ment with two Chi­nese Sta­te­owned com­pa­nies last month, dur­ing Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s visit to the coun­try, to build and then op­er­ate lux­ury cruise­lin­ers from the coun­try.

Liu from Royal Caribbean said for­eign op­er­a­tors in China are likely to find the route ahead tougher than be­fore, but in­sisted that in a mar­ket that still has a lim­ited num­ber of ser­vices, de­mand will re­main high for its type of high-end cruise prod­ucts.

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