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March 14, 2011

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Tax-free stores on way for cruise passengers

CRUISE ship passengers arriving at the city may soon be able to shop at port area tax-free stores, Vice Mayor Zhao Wen said at the weekend.

This is one of a number of measures designed to make Shanghai a leading worldwide cruise ship hub, said Zhao, speaking at the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the weekend.

Other initiatives proposed by Zhao, who is a CPPCC member, include a visa-free cruise ship tour for Chinese people and developing cruise ship tours on inland rivers.

"The tax-free stores can be opened in the port areas, which would be convenient for tourists," she said.

"And it will also be very appealing if people who go overseas and return within three days by cruise ship can enjoy a visa-free policy."

Zhao said tourist-friendly policies will boost the city's growing cruise ship economy.

Some 66 cruise ships departed from Shanghai as a home port last year, compared with 32 in 2009.

In the same period, inbound and outbound tourists numbers rose 36 percent to around 250,000, according to Shanghai tourism authorities.

Meanwhile, the city wants its expansive harbor facilities to be a port of call for large cruise liners carrying tourists.

Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in the northeastern Baoshan District, the first phase of which was completed last April, is expected to complement the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal in downtown Hongkou District, which opened in 2008.

After Wusongkou is fully completed next year, the number of berths for cruise ships will increase from six to eight. The terminal will be able to accommodate 100,000-ton luxury vessels.

Earlier, Shanghai government said the city is aiming to be an international tourism hub within five years.


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