In­lan­ders jour­ney to the coast for voy­ages

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­

The num­ber of trav­el­ers from in­land cities on the Chi­nese main­land — who fly to a cruise liner home­port on the east coast and em­bark on a cruise — has been on a sharp rise over the past few years, ac­cord­ing to a top ex­ec­u­tive with an in­ter­na­tional cruise liner group.

Liu Zi­nan, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional, made the re­marks dur­ing a me­dia brief­ing in Shang­hai last week, while in­tro­duc­ing plans to up­grade the­com­pany’s prod­ucts.

Royal Caribbean, the world’s sec­ond­biggest cruise op­er­a­tor, said that the hefty in­crease in the Chi­nese busi­ness is ex­pected to con­tinue in the com­ing years.

Liu said that peo­ple who grew up in­land have a strong re­spect and de­sire to ex­pe­ri­ence life on the ocean.

“That’s why a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple are will­ing to make such fly­cruise tours when the cruise mar­ket is be­com­ing ma­ture in in­land prov­inces,” Liu said.

Wang Jing, head of sales and mar­ket­ing in west­ern China for Royal Caribbean, said that the mar­ket in this re­gion started from scratch five years ago.

“The num­ber of such trav­el­ers has in­creased at an an­nual av­er­age of more than 40 per­cent in the past five years,” said Wang, who is based in Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince.

Jiang Hong, chair­man of Best Cruise In­ter­na­tional, a cruise agency based in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince, said 84 peo­ple were the first batch of tourists from Yun­nan to em­bark on a voyage on Royal Caribbean’s cruise liner Quan­tum of the Seas in June last year.

“But since spring this year, we have at least 500 tourists from Yun­nan on each of the four or five voy­ages run by this com­pany’s cruise lin­ers each month,” Jiang said.

“Over­all, the num­ber of peo­ple mak­ing fly-cruise tours this year has at least dou­bled that of last year,” he said.

Wang said such tourists cur­rently make up roughly 5 per­cent of their to­tal cus­tomers, but would rise to 10 per­cent — the same kind of lev­els as in the US mar­ket, where cruise tourism is quite ma­ture — if trans­porta­tion costs be­tween their home city and port cities were low­ered.

“The largest ob­sta­cle for these tourists is that they have to buy round-trip air or train tick­ets from their home to the port city, which is be­tween 2,000 yuan ($296) and 3,000 yuan, al­most the same as a cruise liner ticket,” she said.

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