China's cruise industry shows strong growth over the summer tourism season
After coming to a standstill during the pandemic, China's cruise tourism industry has shown strong signs of growth during the sizzling summer tourism market.
Over 90 percent of rooms on the 25,000-ton Blue Dream Star, owned by the Blue Dream Cruises, have been fully reserved for the summer vacation since July, the cruise operator revealed on Monday.
The cruise ship, with 390 rooms and a capacity of 1,053 passengers, makes Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in Baoshan District its home port, and travels to outbound destinations such as Japan's Kagoshima, Fukuoka, Kochi, Sasebo, Nagasaki, Moji, Hiroshima, Beppu, Osaka as well as others.
The reservation amount for the summer vacation has exceeded expectation with a voyage on July 19 fully booked, Blue Dream Cruises said.
A five-day trip to Okinawa in Japan and an eight-day voyage to appreciate Japan's annual summer fireworks festival, both in August, are among the best sold, it said.
The ship, among the first cruise liners resuming international cruise operations from the Chinese mainland, is scheduled to operate 28 trips between late May and October 2, after China's Ministry of Transport announced the resumption of international cruise programs in late March.
As of Monday, it has operated 14 journeys smoothly.
"Despite a three-year halt, we found that Chinese tourists remain very passionate about outbound cruise tours, and the sales are very optimistic," said an official with the cruise company.
In summer, the ship is packed with passengers of all age groups from children enjoying summer vacation to lovebirds and retirees.
"It's my first trip following the pandemic and the journey is filled with excitement and freshness," said Zhao Jindi, a Shanghai tourist in her 50s, who spent a six-day trip on the ship with four friends. "It's super nice to resume travel again and a cruise tour is an ideal option due to its comfort."
"There is no need to prepare an itinerary, and I enjoyed the time on dock with the fresh breeze and abundant sunshine," she added.
Shanghai is Asia's largest cruise home port and the world's fourth-largest. Between 2008 and 2020, the city received around 3,000 cruise liners, resulting in 15 million trips from domestic and international tourists, according to the Shanghai Administration of Culture and Tourism.
In late March, the China Ministry of Transport approved the restart of international cruise operations in Shanghai and Shenzhen on a trial basis.
The Wusongkou International Cruise Liner Port aims to become a major destination for international cruise ships, targeting 300 ship visits and 2.7 million visitors annually by 2025.
Specific measures include improving cruise port infrastructure, enhancing port entry and exit supervision services, improving transportation systems, and establishing a robust emergency management system.
China's summer tourism market is booming as statistics from travel operators showed.
The bookings of hotels, tourist attractions and tourism-related transport in half a month since the summer vacation started, surpassed that of the same period in 2019, Shanghai-based online travel operator Trip.com revealed.
The China Tourism Academy recently forecast that this year's summer vacation should be the hottest in terms of tourism performance in the latest five years, with the number of tourist visits estimated to hit 1.85 billion between June and August.
"China's tourism economy has reached a strategic turning point and the upward trend is irreversible based on various indexes and statistics," said Dai Bin, director of the academy.