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Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 08:58

Chongqing companies say cruises still safe

By Tan Yingzi and Deng Rui in Chongqing

Chongqing companies say cruises still safe

Family members of passengers on board the capsized ship gather at the company that owes the cruise in Chongqing, June 2. ( Photo / IC)

Cruise companies in Chongqing said on Tuesday that their business had not been affected by Monday's tragedy on the Yangtze River and that cruising is still safe.

Zhou Zhuo, general manager of Victoria Cruises, said the company's vessels run from Chongqing to Yichang in Hubei province, "which is on a very quiet stretch of the Yangtze".

"We have never had such accidents from strong winds," Zhou said.

Many of the company's clients come from overseas, and Zhou said some customers had called to express concern about safety.

"I believe this accident was caused mainly by severe weather and our clients will understand this," he said.

Yu Bing, sales director at Yangzi Explorer, another high-end cruise company, said its vessels were operating as usual.

"I believe our clients will view this tragedy as an accident and still trust the safety on Yangtze cruise tours," Yu said.

Each year, the Three Gorges on the Yangtze attracts millions of tourists from around the world to cruises on China's longest waterway.

The Three Gorges - Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge-stretch 193 kilometers from Chongqing in the west to Yichang in the east.

Chongqing, the major port on the Yangtze, has witnessed a fast-growing cruise industry since the 1980s.

Seventeen cruise companies are based in the municipality and another four in neighboring Hubei province, with a total of 85 ships, according to China Travel News.

Tour packages can be tailored for different cruise groups, with prices ranging from several hundred yuan to several thousand. Among the 85 vessels, 34 luxury ships cater to foreign tourists and the others serve domestic travelers.

Last year, about 600,000 visitors took Yangtze cruises from Chongqing, according to the municipal tourism administration.

From the 1980s to 2000, about 90 percent of cruise passengers were from overseas. But in the past decade, domestic tourists have been taking the cruises, and now 75 percent of passengers are from the Chinese mainland.

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