Shanghai World Expo 2010>Tourism
UPDATED: April 14, 2010 NO. 1 JANUARY 7, 2010
Cruising to the Expo
Shanghai's 2010 World Expo is a golden opportunity to bolster China's cruise ship industry

PORT OF CALL: A Japanese cruise ship is docked at the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal on October 19, 2009 (ZHU LAN)

Shanghai's cruise ship port broke a number of records in 2009. The port saw 182,000 passenger visits via international cruise liners throughout the year, an increase of 73 percent over the year before.

The year saw 33 visits of cruise ships that call Shanghai home and another 47 visits from ships with different home ports, breaking previous records.

An industry report predicts that the city's cruise tourism will reach a climax in 2010 when Shanghai World Expo, a massive international event, will be held between May and October. It forecasts 232 cruise ships will be entering and exiting the city in 2010, an increase of 87 percent over 2009.

Shanghai's cruise economy has been given a big boost in recent years and the coming Expo is expected to do even more. Port facility construction has been given priority in the city that is home to a number of rivers and lakes.

The Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal began operations in August 2009. The port, which was designed to resemble a drop of water, can hold three cruise ships of 70,000 to 80,000 tons at a time. Its terminal can process 1 million passengers a year.

Another terminal is being constructed along the city's northern Wusong Estuary and will be finished before the Expo in April 2010. It will cost 8 billion yuan ($1.17 billion) and will allow international tourists to cruise into Shanghai and pleasure boats to sail up the Huangpu River. Wusong Estuary is the proper depth and width to accommodate three or four 60,000-ton, 300-meter-long cruise liners at the same time.

"A 100,000-ton cruise liner can turn around here, but it would be hard in the downtown section of the Huangpu River," said an official with the Baoshan District's Huangpu Riverbank Development Office.

When it is complete, Shanghai will provide anchorage for international cruise liners on the Huangpu River, from Wusong Estuary to the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal on the Bund.

Business picks up

International cruise giants have established offices in Shanghai in recent years, including Star Cruises and MSC Cruises.

In 2008, MSC Cruises and Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) formed a joint venture travel and general sales agency called MSC Cruises Travel Agency (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.

In November 2009, SIPG signed a memorandum of understanding with Royal Caribbean Cruises in an effort to boost revenue from cruise ships coming into the city. The two groups will work together on market promotions, staff training and other areas of cruise operations.

"The cruise economy in Shanghai is not yet fully developed, but we hope the 2010 World Expo will bring more visitors," said Cheng Meihong, Deputy Director of the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration.

New growth point

Expanding cruise ship revenues in Shanghai are signaling a boom for the industry, which is expected to become a new growth field in China's economic picture. The number of international cruise passengers arriving in China's coastal ports will reach 600,000 in 2010, according to a 2008-09 Development Report of China's Cruise Industry issued in January 2009.

International cruise development patterns have shown that when per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) of a region or a country reaches $6,000-$8,000, it possesses the required conditions to develop its cruise economy. Per-capita GDP has already exceeded $6,000 in Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin, and those of the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangdong have reached around $5,000.

As traditional cruise markets in Europe and the United States are becoming saturated, the international cruise industry is now shifting priorities to Asia, especially in the emerging Chinese mainland market, according to Zheng Weihang, Vice President of the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association under the China Communications and Transportation Association.

The Central Government and ministries have also put developing the cruise economy on their agenda. In March 2009, a State Council meeting decided to put regulations for the development of the cruise industry on the table.

In February 2009, the China National Tourism Administration incorporated cruise tourism into its water tourism plan. In April, the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association was commissioned by the Ministry of Transport to study the global cruise industry and foreign-flagged cruise liners calling at intermediate domestic ports.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology published in July 2009 guidance on technological developments and potential fields for investment in the ship industry over the next two years, which includes a focus on mega-cruises.

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