Costa Crociere S.p.A will establish the cruise industry’s first wholly-owned foreign enterprise (WOFE) in China. The new company will be located in Shanghai, Costa’s home port city in China, offering commercial and financial services to local travel partners and passengers, such as marketing, ticketing and collection.

“We are proud to be the first cruise company to set up a WOFE in China. Since 2006, when Costa was the first cruise company to enter the Chinese cruise market, Costa has worked closely with local government authorities to continuously propel the development of the Chinese cruise industry and act as a market pioneer in opening up new prospects. The WOFE status is our new instrument to develop business in China and enhance our commitment to long-term development in this marketplace. I would like to thank for this important achievement the local government authorities, in particular the Ministry of Transport and the Shanghai Municipality” said Mr. Pier Luigi Foschi, Chairman and CEO of Costa Crociere S.p.A.

Mr. Gianni Onorato, President of Costa Crociere S.p.A., added: “As the leading player in the market and an innovative cruise company, we always seek new ways to operate, establish new cruise itineraries, as well as to develop new cruise experiences for our Chinese passengers. In the past six years of our operation in China, we have achieved most of these targets thanks to the efforts and cooperation extended by the local authorities, in particular the Ministry of Transport and the Shanghai Municipality. With the new WOFE’s support, we are confident we will entice more Chinese consumers to experience the extraordinary holidays offered on our cruise ships, including the upcoming Costa Victoria, which will be deployed in China in 2012.”

Being the first international cruise company to enter the Chinese market, Costa has become one of the best recognized, beloved and most popular tourism brands in the country. By October 2011, more than 170,000 Chinese passengers travelled on Costa’s Italian Style inspired cruises.

In 2011, the China Ministry of Transport revised the Approval of Foreign-owned Shipping Company Interim Measures and granted permission to foreign cruise companies operating in China to establish wholly-owned institutions. Once again, Costa becomes the pioneer to receive approval under the new government regulation. Costa’s new WOFE status will have the scope of soliciting passengers, issuing tickets, processing proceeds and payment in RMB.

On November 18, Mr. Gianni Onorato, President of Costa Crociere S.p.A. attended the grand ceremony held jointly with Shanghai Municipality, HongKou District and other influential local authorities to celebrate the establishment of the new WOFE.