By Yang Yangteng
On November 12, Shenzhen Prince Bay Cruise Homeport which can berth the world's largest 220 thousand ton cruise, officially opened its operation and ushered in the first official sail of a cruise on November 13. As one of China's four major cruise tourism development trial districts, Shenzhen has officially entered into the era of the cruise economy.
Southern China needing in urgent Marine Economic Portal
The two major cruise homeports in Shanghai and Tianjin have had half of China's cruise passenger traffic. According to the statistics of China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association, in the first half of this year, there are 415 ship-times of cruise berths in all the cruise ports across China with the number of tourists received reaching 1.8372 million, of which Shanghai received 69.8 percent of the tourists and berthed 55.42 percent of the cruise; Tianjin received 11.02 percent of the tourists and Guangzhou 8.91 percent. Because there is no cruise terminal, Guangdong, as the country's largest tourist source output provinces, can only have its tourists in large number travel to Hong Kong, Xiamen, Shanghai and other places to take a cruise.
On May 18 this year, China National Tourism Administration agreed to set up a "China cruise tourism development trial district" in Prince Bay area, Shekou of Shenzhen. According to the plan, the cruise tourism development trial district in Shenzhen will cover an area of 9.4 square kilometers. In which, the Prince Bay International Cruise Homeport is a cruise homeport project wholly owned by China Merchants Shekou Holdings under China Merchants Group with the rear port covering an area of 697.64 thousand square meters and the total construction area of 1.7 million square meters.
The regional advantages of Shenzhen have laid a good foundation for the sustainable development of the Prince Bay Cruise Homeport. Shenzhen is characterized by sub tropical climate which is conducive to the berthing of cruises throughout the year. Located in the Pearl River Delta and being adjacent to Hong Kong and Macao, Shenzhen is an important gateway of China to the sea. After the opening, the Prince Bay Cruise Homeport, together with Hong Kong Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and Guangzhou Nansha Port, will form a Pearl River Delta cruise economic zone that will enrich the cruise routes in Southern China.
As Asia's largest port city with all the routes in land, sea and air, Shenzhen has very high passenger number for customs clearance every year. In 2015, the passenger number for customs clearance in all the ports of Shenzhen was over 239 million. At the same time, Shenzhen is an important tourist destination, tourist source and an inbound and outbound tourism center as well. At present, Shenzhen's per capita GDP has been more than USD 20 thousand. All these have laid a good foundation for the development of cruise economy.
An opportunity to revitalize the city economy
On the territory of Shenzhen, Shekou has a special significance. 37 years ago, Shekou Industrial Zone took the first step of China's reform and opening up. In March 2015, the program of China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone, Qianhai & Shekou Area was approved, sending Shekou once again to the most front of the stage of China's reform and opening up. Now, as China cruise tourism development trial district, Shekou will build up a sea economic portal for Shenzhen and fill the gaps in Southern China cruise industry by making use of the Prince Bay Cruise Homeport.
According to the plan, the Prince Bay Cruise Homeport will build 15 berths with one 220 thousand tons cruise berth (the world's largest cruise berth configuration) and one 120 thousand tons cruise berth (the berth wharf structure will be designed according to the configuration of berthing 120 thousand tons cruise), one 10 thousand tons of passenger cargo ro-ro berth, ten 800 tons ferry berths and two waiting berths which can berth international luxury cruises with the tonnage up to 220 thousand tons. The Prince Bay Cruise Homeport will thus become the only modern cruise homeport in Southern China which integrates all the transportation ways of sea, road, air and railway" in one.
On December 30, 2015, Shekou Industrial Zone under China Merchants Group merged the China Merchants Property Development that promoted the restructuring and listing of China Merchants Shekou Holdings. It has put forward the development pattern of "port at front, district in center and city at rear" to correspond the cruise industry construction and operation, park development and operation and community development and operation. Among them, the cruise industry has become a new major business system in addition to the traditional real estate business. Xu Yongjun, general manager of China Merchants Shekou Holdings, told the reporter that this pattern will realize the linkage between port, industry and city, and will coordinate the government, enterprises and all kinds of resources. Its connotation is the industrial flow and upgrading, so as to revitalize the city.
Taking the cruise homeport construction as the core, China Merchants Shekou Holdings is building a cruise industry chain integrating the tourism operation, the catering and shopping, the duty-free trade, the hotel and entertainment, the port and real estate, as well as the financial services. The 2016 semiannual report of China Merchants Shekou Holdings shows that it has realized a total of revenue of RMB 21.25 billion yuan in the first half of this year, of which the cruise business revenue is RMB 173 million yuan. Although it accounted for only 0.8 percent of the total revenue and the gross margin rose accounted for only 0.52 percent, but as a big sector of China Merchants Shekou Holdings, the cruise business has seen a huge space for future growth.
In addition, China Merchants Group has also participated into the development and operation of Shanghai international cruise homeport, Tianjin international cruise homeport and Xiamen cruise homeport in the form of sole investment, share-holding or joint development. The number of cruise tourists of these three cruise homeports last year has reached 2.25 million, accounting for 90 percent of that totally in China. On September 8 this year, the Xiamen Sea World and the International Cruise Terminal jointly operated by China Merchants Shekou Holdings and Xiamen Port Holding Group has started the construction. It includes the construction and operation of homeport, fleet services, cruise services, supplies and travel services.
At present, China Merchants Group has invested and operated more than 30 ports in 18 countries and regions around the world. Chairman of China Merchants Group Li Jianhong said that the shipping industry is a traditional industry of one hundred-year China Merchants Group. China Merchants Group will give full play to its advantages in financial, real estate, logistics, marine industry and trade to participate into the whole chain of the cruise industry, including the related fields like construction and operation of homeport, fleet construction, tourism destination development, cruise building, material supply and tourism, and create a high-end cruise industry ecosystem by cooperating deeply with the companies with international competitiveness.
"As China's first special economic zone and with the advantages of free trade zone, Shenzhen has great potential in the cruise market and the obvious second-mover advantages." Zhang Heyun, managing director of Shenzhen Art, Sport and Tourism Bureau, said that Shenzhen will increase the intensity of services, especially that of public services to support China Merchants Group to participate and invest into the cruise industry chain with the Prince Bay Cruise Homeport as a fulcrum, assist relevant departments to fully integrate resources including regional transportation to provide platform and policy support to the extension of the cruise industry chain, and build the Prince Bay Cruise Homeport an important engine to promote the development of tourism in Shenzhen.