The emerging Chinese cruise industry is still confronted with many problems. With the increasingly fierce competition of international cruise tourism and the fast growing potential consumption inChina, we need to establish an coordination system on the central government level and an sustaining and standard market system to tackle the issues such as policy environment, market entity, consumption trend and service capacity.
My suggestions are as follows:
1. Establishing a Leading Group for National Cruise Economy
Cruise economy is a systemic project involving many departments such as National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Transport, Maritime Safety Administration, Ministry of Public Security, Customs Office, China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine and National Tourism Administration. It requires the coordination and promotion of different departments. At the present stage, we need to set up a leading group for national cruise economy or a coordination system at ministerial level and establish the office at National Tourism Administration or Ministry of Transport. Different departments should work together and form a coordinated and comprehensive industrial system and an overall industrial policy framework. The leading group should coordinate and handle with the cruise affairs among Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia,Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland and the cross-strait regions.
2. Formulating Overall Strategy on Development of Chinese Cruise Economy
In recent years, cruise market in North America andEuropeare saturating. It is clear that international cruise market is going eastward. Some countries have caught on the early bus. In 2004,Indiaformulated Overall Plan for National Cruise Tourism; in 2008, ASEAN countries jointly formulated ASEAN Cruise Economy Coordinated Development Plan; in 2010,South Koreaformulated ROK Cruise Industry Development Plan.
We haven't integrated cruise industry into the overall plan for national economy, and we don't have systematic institutional norms oriented for cruise industry development. Relevant departments have not proposed special guidance and plans designated for cruise development. I would like to suggest that the National Development and Reform Committee take the lead to formulate the Overall Strategy on Development of Chinese Cruise Economy or the Outlines for Chinese Cruise Economy，which should cover issues such as goal of cruise industry, aim for developing cruise industry, development stage, international cruise courses, international cruise destinations, cruise procurement, cruise logistics, cruise professional human recourses, cruise design and shipbuilding, cruise consumption, and cruise development policies. We should have a development outline for 2012-2030 to guide a coordinated development of cruise industry, which could makeChinain a strong position in the Asian cruise market.
3. Issuing National Guidelines on Construction of Cruise Terminal (Dock)
At present, the construction of cruise terminals nationwide develops freely and is lack of a national planning and the regional coordination. Only cities in Pearl River Delta,Guangzhou, Shenzhen, the North China Sea area andHong Kong, are undergoing planning and construction of cruise terminals, and a new round of fierce competition must emerge in only a few years. It's suggested that the Ministry of Transport issue the National Guidelines on Construction of Cruise Terminal (Dock) as soon as possible to further clarify the layout and function distinction of cruise ports and to avoid the herd phenomenon and waste of resources. It is encouraged to build the dock for both passenger and cargo or the simple passenger center, the comprehensive and modern entry-exit inspection center and the waiting hall. We can meet the demand of the current cruise tourism market and we do not encourage the blind construction of cruise home ports and landmark buildings.
4. Speeding up the establishment of local cruise ship fleet
Currently, we are faced with problems such as policy bottleneck, heavy cost and high barriers in the formation of the local cruise ship fleet. The cost is very high to buy the second-hand cruise liner from abroad and hang our national flag on it. The two main reasons are as follows: the import tariff and value added tax for buying cruise liners will hit 27%, and all the working staff will pay added tax for their salaries if the ship is with our national flag, while the ship with flag of convenience can avoid those taxes. In this way, the local cruise lines can not compete with the overseas cruise lines equally. At present, Chinese-funded cruise companies usually register inHong Kongand hang the flag of convenience, and this is not a real Chinese cruise company. A 60,000-tonnage cruise will cost 3 billion RMB, and even the second-hand cruise will cost 1 billion RMB. It means heavy cost and high barriers. Besides, local cruise are restricted with the service items. According to the operating practice of the international cruise industry, gambling for entertainment accounts for one third of the total value of twice-consuming on international cruise, while the cruise with our national flag are forbidden with gambling, and this will reduce the competitiveness of local cruise company.
In order to join the international competition and remain the consumption demand in the domestic market,Chinaneeds to develop and establish our own cruise company and cruise ship fleet as soon as possible. It is suggested the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Public Security appropriately loosen its policies for the cruise companies such as the business policy, vessel age policy, crew management policy, voyage management policy, tax policy and recreation policy, positively encourage to set up cruise company and cruise ship fleet with combined capital from the Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong, buy or hire the cruise with flag of convenience, and normalize the operation of cross-strait cruise course and the north-south cruise course.
5. Setting up Pilot District for Cruise Industry development
It is recommended the National Tourism Administration take the lead to set up ''pilot district for cruise industry development'' in the two home port cities-Shanghai andTianjin, and implement the following 5 policies: First: policy of permission for foreign investment and expanding opening up. It gives relative policy encouragement and conveniences to the cruise company registered in the pilot district and the overseas cruise companies which transfer their global or regional headquarters into the pilot district. Second, policy of tax preference and fee waiver. It exempts the cruise industrial chain companies in the pilot district from the business tax and gives them performance bonus and other funding support. Third, finance and credit support. Setting up a cruise financing and tenancy company as pilot, and this policy will allow the company to set up an offshore account and encourage domestic companies to address the financing issues through bank financing, cruise industry fund or cruise trust products. Fourth, policy for convenience of customs clearance and simplification of frontier inspection. Exploring various convenient ways for customs clearance and striving for extension of the 48-hour transit visa-free policy. Fifth, shopping tax refund and inland linkage. Striving to set up duty-free shop and offshore tax refund office in the pilot district.
6. EstablishingCross-Strait Cruise Tourism Circle
Taiwan is an important destination for the Asian courses and is of great significance for cruise voyage planning and enriching tourists' choices. But the current policy stipulates that the ship can not stop at a third place during the trip toTaiwanor stop atTaiwanduring the trip to a third place. This impedes the enthusiasm of overseas cruise companies to accredit more cruise liners toChina. Besides, the clearance required for mainland visitors toTaiwanis difficult which impedes the development of cruise tourism toTaiwanto some extent. Therefore, it is recommended that the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Public Security, National Tourism Administration and Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council jointly develop a "Cross-Strait Cruise Tourism Circle" with Xiamen as its first stop, plan a multi-voyage cruise voyages covering Heisey, Shanghai, Zhoushan, four port cities in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Naha in Japan, and make experiments in advance to earn a breakthrough in the policy of cross-strait cruise development. For example, for the mainland visitors to Taiwan for 72 hours by cruise, the entry permit is not required while only passport and a temporary entry permit are required; for the international cruise with its first and last stop are at abroad and intermediate direct flight, the examination and approval is changed from once per voyage into periodic examination and approval; for the entertainers on the cruise, they are granted with periodic temporary seaman's certificates.
7. Reducing or Remitting Cruise Tonnage Dues
According to the survey, the fees charged by the central government account for a large percent of the comprehensive dues of the cruise port at about two third of the total value, while the fees charged by the local cruise port account for only one third of it. The operators of the Chinese cruise ports charge very low fees and even run at a loss; while for the international cruise companies, the comprehensive fees are too high and far beyond those of Singapore, Japan and other Asian countries. Such as the tonnage dues, some passenger liners abroad are not charged with tonnage dues, or charged with only a small percent as the criterion of the cargo vessel. It's advised that the Customs Head Office, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation work together to reduce the comprehensive fees for the international cruise, to reduce or remit the cruise tonnage dues, and to adopt the preferential policy so as to encourage international cruise lines to develop more Chinese home port voyages and to attract more international cruise liners calling at Chinese ports.
8. Building a Comprehensive Education System for Cruise Professionals
Human resource is fundamental in developing cruise industry. The cruise industry inChinais at an embryonic stage and is short of all kinds of cruise professionals. Now the professional education on cruise is mainly conducted in the senior vocational schools and non-government vocational schools, for the training of international cruise attendants, with the basic service process and operant skills as its contents. While considering the sustainable development of cruise economy, highly-qualified and high-level service personnel and managerial personnel with profound theoretical foundation are more necessary. It is advised that the Ministry of Education take the lead to draw lessons from countries with highly developed cruise industry to develop special professional education concerning cruise reception, cruise management, cruise tourism service, cruise marketing, cruise design and construction and cruise ship inspection by bringing in managerial talents and establishment of education and training system, and to form a comprehensive system for cruise professionals.
9. Launching Cruise Tourism Promotion
Cruise tourism is the middle and high-end of the typical "leisure tourism products". It still need some time to be accepted for the domestic consumers who are used to destination-oriented tourism. It's suggested that the National Tourism Administration formulate and implement the "Five-Year Plan on Promotion of Chinese Cruise Tourism", take cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as the core, and the provincial capital cities and costal cities as the key points to develop a cruise-based vacation concept through multiple ways and channels, and to guide the outbound tourists to increase the cruise tourism consumption.
10. Establish the Marketing Fund for Cruise Tourism
In recent years, the coastal cities are developing the cruise economy with increasing enthusiasm, but there are still problems such as "focusing on construction and neglecting promotion", "focusing on hardware and neglecting software". The international promotion and marketing of cruise tourism destination should be urgently enhanced. It's recommended that the National Tourism Administration work with local governments to establish marketing fund for cruise tourism, take the lead to organize the local governments, tourism departments and port departments in China's coastal cities to positively develop international marketing and promote China's rich tourist resources and advanced harbor facilities to boost the inbound cruise tourism.
Mr. Zheng Weihang,
Vice President and Secretary General of
China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association