The Belt and Road Initiative is a new vision and focus of tourism
development that will drive China's cruise tourism economy to a brand
new era, said experts at an international meeting that attracted more
than 700 officials and experts, including top officials from all leading
global cruise operators, to Sanya, Hainan province.
While the Belt and Road Initiative is a manifestation of China's
neighborhood diplomacy featuring friendship and peaceful development, it
has also provided new concepts, new models, new power and new space for
the growth of the country's cruise economy, said Wang Hong, an official
from Shanghai, at a sideline forum of the two-day 12th China Cruise
Shipping Conference and International Cruise Expo, which opened on
Monday and highlighted the Belt and Road Initiative as its theme.
"Directed by the new initiative, China's cruise economy will be
enhanced from speed and quantity to quality and upgrading," she said.
The Silk Road boasts of the most elite collection of tourism
resources, bringing together 80 percent of the world's cultural heritage
elements, and more than 60 countries and 4.4 billion people, according
to the China Cruise Shipping website, the official website of the event.
The National Tourism Administration said China is expected to
transport 150 million Chinese tourists, who will spend $200 billion in
the Belt and Road countries during the "13th Five-Year Plan" (2016-2020)
period. In return, China will attract 85 million tourists from the Belt
and Road countries to travel to China, bringing in about $110 billion
in tourism revenue.
"The event has therefore invited representatives of Belt and Road
countries, cities, ports and tourism bureaus to discuss the huge new
market and cruise line potential," said Zheng Weihang, executive
vice-president and general secretary of the China Cruise & Yacht
To date, China has signed bilateral agreements on sea (river)
transportation respectively with 36 Belt and Road countries as well as
the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,
making it effective that both parties render preferential treatment in
port services and taxes to the ships of the other state at local ports.
In addition, a number of organizations have been established to
facilitate port and maritime cooperation, according to the organizing
committee of the conference.
The Chinese cruise market has seen fast growth in recent years and
the country has become the world's second-largest market for cruise
travel after the United States, according to official figures.
"The number of Chinese tourists departing from domestic ports jumped
from fewer than 20,000 in 2006 to 2.14 million in 2016, making up more
than 40 percent of the Asian cruise market. Eight international cruise
liner ports have been built in cities including Shanghai, Tianjin and
Sanya to serve the growing demand for cruise travel," said Zheng.
"China and the whole Asia is the most important market of MSC Group,"
said Charles (Bud) Darr, executive vice-president of maritime policy
and government affairs for MSC Group, at the forum, which closes
Tuesday. Like all other major cruise conglomerates, MSC will seek
further expansion in China, he added.
"With China entering a new era of development, we are full of
confidence of its market and Carnival will further its investment in the
country," said Arnold W. Donald, president and chief executive officer
for Carnival Corp & plc.
He said the company will supply two newly built cruise ships to the
Chinese market by 2020 and in 2026, it will deliver a local cruise ship
jointly built with the China State Shipbuilding Corp.
By 2030, China is likely to become the world's largest cruise market,
with 8 million to 10 million customers each year, according to the
China Communications and Transportation Association.