Cruise ship industry poised for new golden era

With launch of domestic liner and return of international operators, the sector is primed for strong growth

By WANG YING in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-03-20 07:37
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The deck and the Cafe 1508 onboard Adora Magic City. [Photo/China Daily]

Amid the global recovery in cruise ship travel, the revived Chinese market is eyeing unprecedented opportunities that are expected to usher in a new golden era for the industry, experts said.

At the end of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, China was the world's second-largest cruise ship travel market after the United States, said Zheng Weihang, executive vice-president and secretary-general of the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association.

With Chinese and multinational cruise companies recently resuming operations, China is confident it can return to the 2019 level within two years, and kick-start a new lucrative period for the industry starting in 2026, Zheng said.

A joint guideline issued by ten government agencies, including the Ministry of Transport, aims to grow the Chinese cruise market into one of the most dynamic ones in the world, with annual passenger trips expected to reach 14 million by 2035.

Compared with the last cruise ship travel boom from 2008 to 2017, the new "golden decade" is expected to have different characteristics, including more tailor-made cruise products and joint development of the sector's industrial chain, Zheng said.

"We are going to see more diversified cruise trip options, a rising number of people devoted to the cruise industry, and a wider array of guest services on cruise ships supplied from China," he said.

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