China is likely to become the world's largest cruise market in the next 10 to 20 years while its travel industry and the public sector step up moves to boost marine-based tourism, the China Daily reported Monday.
According to the Cruise Lines International Association, by 2025, the number of Chinese travelers who will have experienced cruise trips is expected to grow to 8 to 10 million, marking a surge from about 2.5 million of last year.
Measures are being taken to modernize and upgrade ports to home-built ships, purchase ocean liners, develop multimodal transport mechanisms and approve longer duration visa-free visits to certain Chinese mainland areas in the neighborhood of ports, according to the report.
The east metropolis of Shanghai plans to build an integrated complex complete with duty-free shops comparable to those at its international airport. Efforts are also underway to introduce linkages between cruises, airlines, trains and buses.
The southernmost island province of Hainan has started a pilot run of its 15-day visa-free policy for tourist groups who take cruises and enter the country from ports in Hainan.
At the corporate level, the world's largest leisure travel company Carnival Corp announced a joint venture with China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC) in November, which will operate its own fleet by the end of 2019.
The joint venture will purchase two existing ships from Carnival Corp's Costa Group, a major cruise operator in Europe and Asia, and order two new cruise ships, the first China-built large cruise fleet.
However, the cruise industry in China faces a significant hiring challenge in the face of growing demand, the newspaper said. By 2020, the talent gap in the sector will reach 280,000, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.