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June 27, 2012

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Shanghai aims at becoming major port for cruise industry

SHANGHAI is on its way to having a more highly developed cruise ship industry with the rapid construction of large docks and introduction of additional tour routes.

Authorities expect a 15 percent jump in passengers taking cruise liners to and from Shanghai this year. More international cruise ships are expected to make Shanghai a home port, said Zhang Lin, vice director of the Shanghai Transport and Port Administration.

Shanghai ports handled over 300,000 passengers taking cruise ships or yachts last year, the immigration police said.

The city plans to boost that number to 1 million by 2015, when the city expects to raise its shipping center to the level of other internationally prominent ports, officials said.

The passenger volume in 2008 was only 150,000, including foreign and Chinese tourists.

"We will keep a close eye on the international cruise ship trends and improve our local industry," said Zhang.

The city aims to become an international cruise base with 500 annual arrivals and departures by then and create a market for secondhand vessels valued at 10 billion yuan.

The challenge lies in domestic business lagging, with a need for more related regulations and measures, experts said.

Fewer than 5 percent of the ships entering or leaving the city's ports on international routes were under the Chinese flag in 2011, said city officials.

Shanghai's maritime administration said breakthroughs are expected this year in developing a ship registration system at the city's Yangshan Deep-Water Port, which will help Chinese cruise liners better compete with international ones.

By 2020, the industry is expected to face a huge shortage of professionals in the cruise ship business, said the researchers.

"Few colleges have majors concerning cruise ships," said Chen Xinde, a professor with Shanghai University of Engineering Science. Chen added that the gap is predicted to be on the order of some 200,000 professionals countrywide.


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