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June 17, 2019

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Cruising toward world’s top status

China enjoys the potential to become the world's largest cruise market, as its cruise tourism industry is expected to boom, driven by international players and government support, according to industry insiders and researchers.

The annual growth for China’s cruise tourism market has exceeded 40 percent since 2006. It is expected to grow into the world’s largest cruise market by 2030, with 8 to 10 million customers per year, according to figures by the Shanghai International Shipping Institute.

China continued dominating the passenger share of Asia’s cruise market, contributing over 70 percent of the region’s 4.24 million passengers in 2018, data released by Cruise Lines International Association in May showed.

Cruise travel has become increasingly popular in both metropolises such as Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou, and smaller cities, including Chengdu, Qingdao and Xiamen, according to, a leading online travel agency.

Riding the wave, international cruise operators have identified China as a valuable source market for growth and begun to gain more foothold in the country, including Carnival Corporation & plc, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Government efforts

“China has the largest cruise market potential in the world. And it’s a great economic multiplier,” Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, said. “We felt that we wanted to be a part of that, as the world’s largest cruise line (operator), to help China and (the) Chinese experience all the great aspects of cruise.”

The CEO mentioned the Chinese government has made great efforts to boost the country’s cruise tourism, so as to help prop up its economic growth.

“(The) cruise (industry) is in the five-year plan for China, because of the great economic multiplier effect that it has for the economy. So one cruise ship job creates about five to seven other jobs in the economy,” he elaborated.

China’s 13th five-year plan has set out that the country should take steady steps to build international cruise terminals from 2016 to 2020, amid the overall efforts to further propel tourism as one of the pillars of the country’s strategic industries.

Overall, China plans to raise tourism revenue to 7 trillion yuan (US$1.01 trillion) by 2020.

Specifically, the cruise tourism industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.23 percent during the decade from 2016, according to a global market research firm AllTheResearch in May.


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