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Thursday, July 21, 2016, 10:26

South China Sea to get SOE cruises

By Zhong Nan

Three large SOEs cooperate to build docking infrastructure and buy passenger liners

South China Sea to get SOE cruises
A cruise liner docks at Sanya's Phoenix Island. (Photo Provided to China Daily )

Three State-owned enterprises from the shipping, tourism and construction sectors will cooperate to equip up to eight cruise liners and offer diversified sightseeing services to tap the travel market in the South China Sea.

Sanya International Cruise Development Co Ltd, a joint venture by COSCO Shipping, China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corp and China Communications Construction Co Ltd, will purchase between five and eight cruise and passenger liners over the next five years and build four cruise liner docks in Sanya's Phoenix Island.

Liu Junli, chairman of Sanya International Cruise, said the company is already operating Dream of the South China Sea, a brand new cruise ship.

It plans to add another two cruise liners by June 2017.

The cruises will be managed by Dalian-based COSCO Shipping Ferry Co Ltd. Dream of the South China Sea will travel from Sanya to the Yongle Island, part of the Xisha Islands in Hainan province within this month.

"With a goal of becoming one of the largest cruise-home ports in Asia, Sanya's Phoenix Island will be able to berth five cruise liners and has a tourist handling capacity of 2 million people a year," said Liu.

The company is also considering a cruise around the South China Sea at the appropriate time.

Its cruise ships will also provide services to overseas destinations including Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and the United States.

Hotels, villas, duty-free shops, tropical-themed commercial parks and commercial streets will all be built to improve the services on the island.

Dong Liwan, a shipbuilding industry professor at Shanghai Maritime University, said market promotion of tailor-made services such as island tours, marine tourism, cruise vacations and island-themed honeymoons are certainly needed to develop the travel business in the South China Sea.

"Media campaigns, next-generation cruises, catering and hotel business development, as well as the application of a public-private partnership financing model will all be key factors in deciding the future business prosperity of the region," said Dong.

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