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China names fifth cruise tourism development pilot zone

Alan Lam reports

The southern port city of Fuzhou, in the province of Fujian, has just been named as the fifth Chinese Cruise Tourism Development Pilot Zone (中国邮轮旅游发展实验区)。

Following Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenzhen, and Qingdao, the government of China has designated Fuzhou, a city of 4.5 million inhabitants (7.2 million including its surrounding areas) with a long maritime tradition, as its fifth Cruise Tourism Development Pilot Zone in its effort to wholeheartedly support domestic cruise industry.

The city – located only a 30-minute-flight from Taipei, Taiwan – is relatively lesser known to the cruise industry. This latest move by the Central Government forms part of its recent “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Fuzhou is also regarded as a hub of China’s Maritime Silk Road network.

A 5.5-square-kilometre area located outside of the city near the port of Son Xia in Changle (长乐松下港), about 18 kilometres from Fuzhou International Airport, has been dedicated to this project. Son Xia is also the gateway to Bin Hai New Town(滨海新城 ).

In its effort to promote domestic cruise industry, this initiative is another sign of China’s effort to focus not only on domestic source market, but also on domestic and neighbouring destinations by opening up more ports within the region.

Cruise Business Review believes that this kind of moves could materially hamper efforts to attract mass Chinese cruise tourists to Europe and Mediterranean. While the cruise industry is increasingly global, China’s development strategy can be perceived as becoming more and more China-centric.