Ports look to cruise ship fil­lip

But ex­perts cau­tion new busi­ness model needed to reap prof­its from grow­ing off­shore tourist sec­tor

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By CHAI­HUA in Shen­zhen chai­hua@chi­nadaily.com.cn

South­ern China’s ports are striv­ing to de­velop a cruise in­dus­try, as a new driver to ex­pand their economies, but ex­perts say it is paramount for them to ex­plore a new busi­ness model in their hunt to make prof­its.

Prince Bay Cruise Home­port in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince, of­fi­cially started op­er­a­tions on Nov 12, mark­ing a mile­stone in the take­off of the city’s cruise in­dus­try.

The first cruise liner drop­ping an­chor was the Su­per­Star Virgo owned by Gent­ing Hong Kong —the lead­ing global leisure, en­ter­tain­ment and hospi­tal­ity com­pany —and it left on Sun­day for a six-day trip with 1,445 pas­sen­gers to Viet­nam.

The six-star Sil­ver Shadow cruise liner is also ex­pected to set sail from the home­port in Jan­uary next year.

The home­port is wholly-owned by Shen­zhen-basedan­dlist­edChina Mer­chants Shekou In­dus­trial Zone Hold­ings Ltd (CMSK), a sub­sidiary of the State-owned con­glom­er­ate Chi­naMer­chants Group (CMG).

The whole har­bor district cov­ers an area of 697,640 square me­ters, with a to­tal build­ing area of 1700,000squareme­ters. The big­gest berth among its to­tal 15 can al­low the world’s big­gest, 220,000-met­ric­tons grand cruise­lin­ers, to call.

CMSK­said it was cur­rently at the first stage of con­struc­tion and more berths would be es­tab­lished soon af­ter get­ting ap­proval from the gov­ern­ment.

Mean­while, Hong Kong and Guangzhou re­ceived one of the largest cruise­ships in Asia — the maiden cruise of Dream Cruises, also op­er­ated by Gent­ing Hong Kong, on the same day.

Ex­perts said they be­lieve the bur­geon­ing cruise in­dus­try in China could bring a new mar­ket to re­vive the slug­gish port economies, but say the key is to find a sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment model.

China’s port in­dus­try is de­vel­op­ing at a very slow speed, said Chen Ying­ming, vice di­rec­tor of the China Ports & Har­bors As­so­ci­a­tion.

He said China’s port through­put had in­creased only 2.2 per­cent in the first nine months of 2016 com­pared with the same pe­riod of last year — the low­est growth rate in the sec­tor’s his­tory.

But the cruise in­dus­try by con­trast is grow­ing in dou­ble dig­its. China’s 10 cruise ports re­ceived 629 cruises and 2.48 mil­lion peo­ple sailed on cruises in 2015, up by 35 and 44 per­cent re­spec­tively over the pre­vi­ous year, ac­cord­ing to China Na­tional Tourism data.

Chen said even with pas­sen­ger vol­umes ex­plod­ing, fe­wof these ten ports were mak­ing prof­its, be­cause the ves­sels were only pass­ing through the port and the ser­vices these port pro­vided were lim­ited.

In the past, the tra­di­tional func­tion of a port was for peo­ple and car­gos to go in and out, but now a new in­no­va­tive tourism prod­uct is needed to be de­vel­oped, he added.

Xu Yongjun, gen­eral man­ager of CMSK, said the com­pany was ex­plor­ing a new strat­egy for port man­age­ment, start­ing with the Prince Bay home­port in Shen­zhen. Ad­min­is­tra­tion

in­crease in China’s port through­put in the first nine months of 2016 peo­ple who sailed on cruises in 2015, up 44 per­cent year-on-year

ANKOV / FOR CHINA DAILY VITALIY

Chi­nese tourists on Tais­han cruise ship re­ceive a ro­bust wel­come on ar­rival at the port of Vladi­vos­tok, Rus­sia.

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