Cruise lines see China market steaming ahead
A forecast by Shanghai International Shipping Institute shows Chinese cruise travelers are expected to range between 8 million-10 million by 2030.
China has become a booming market for international cruise lines, Shanghai's China Business News writes, citing statistics from the Cruise Lines International Association which say China boasted an almost 80% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2012 and 2014.
The data shows that about 679,000 Chinese nationals bought cruise travel packages in 2014, accounting for half of the total in Asia.
The paper said China has become an attractive market for major cruise operators who are gearing up to expand their capacity in Asia to woo more Chinese clients.
Major cruise lines such as US-based Royal Caribbean International have been expanding their operations in Asia by boosting the number of their cruise ships by 10% from 2013-2015. The number of Asian travelers accommodated by these cruise lines is expected to grow 20% during the same period, the report added.
Royal Caribbean, the world's second-largest cruise line, will add one new liner to its fleet in 2016 to push up the number of cruise ships serving the China market to five.
Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean, told China Business News that the cruise travel market in the Asia-Pacific region has been growing rapidly in recent years and that China and Hong Kong have become the focus of cruise lines' development plans in the region.
According to data released by the UN World Tourism Organization, the number of Chinese outbound travelers during the 2009-2013 period grew almost 20%. The report said the UN data is also evidence that China has become an attractive market for cruise lines.
Dominic Paul, senior vice president of Royal Caribbean, said Shanghai is the largest market in China for his company six years after the cruise operator started doing business n the city. He said his company has been extending its reach to Tianjin and Xiamen.
Wang Hua, sales director at Royal Caribbean China, said the company has great potential for growth in terms of cruise travel, which accounts for only 0.025% of China's total travel revenue, compared with 3%-3.5% in the United States, indicating that there is a lot of room for growth.
A forecast released by the Shanghai International Shipping Institute shows that the number of Chinese cruise travelers is expected to range between 8 million-10 million by 2030, by which time the country is expected to be the largest market in the world. The data also forecast that cruise travel in China is expected to make up 0.5%-1% of the country's total tourism revenue by 2030.
Wang said families, seniors and corporations are the three major clients categories for Royal Caribbean and his company wants potential customers to understand that cruise travel is affordable to middle-class Chinese.
Wang said Royal Caribbean will promote packages of longer trips rather than the five-night trips that are currently the industry standard in China, and the line will dock its ships in more ports in China to accommodate more travelers.
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