In the central part of Beijing, the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association (CCYIA) has a team with some 20 staff, working diligently to promote the healthy growth and development of the Chinese cruise industry.

Although the CCYIA is registered as a non-profit organization in China, it has the official backing from the National Development and Reform Commission, under the purview of the Chinese State Council (CSC). Thus, the CCYIA can be considered a pseudo-governmental organization, responsible for assisting both the central and provincial governments in formulation of cruise industry policies.

When asked during a Cruise Industry News interview about the long-term prospect of the Chinese cruise industry, CCYIA’s vice president and secretary (the defacto CEO) Wei Hang Zheng was all-smiles and declared optimistically: “The time has come.”

He cited two clear signals from the central government. First, the issuance of China’s new National Tourism Strategy in early February 2013 with the cruise industry specifically mentioned in this official paper of the CSC as one of the major components in building a Chinese-style national tourism and leisure system.

Two months later, the newly appointed Chinese President, Xi Jinping, made a visit to the first international port in China dedicated to bigger ships, the Phoenix Island International Cruise Terminal in Sanya.

“China currently has three cruise terminals under construction, adding to the five terminals already in place. From what we know, more cities are joining the cruise terminal bandwagon,” he said. “We must avoid unnecessary competition and conflict that could in turn hurt the industry.”    

The other barrier is legal. “Even though there are incentives from the government for domestic cruise operators, the two domestic players, HNA and China Cruise, have chosen to register their ships outside China because casinos are disallowed on domestic cruises.”

During a two-hour interview, the energetic Zheng reiterated his optimism about the Chinese cruise industry.

He remains hopeful and optimistic for a positive change over the long-term for China to build and foster its own portion of the global cruise business.

>> Also in this section: shipbuilding in China, Xiamen newbuild update and the future of China Cruise.

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Summer 2013