TIANJIN CITY: More Chinese tourists aboard cruise ships from Tianjin International Cruise Home Port will see for themselves the beautiful islands of the Philippines in the coming years.
According to Tianjin Cruise Port General Manager Zhang Zhendong, the Philippines is one of the target destinations being considered under future expansion plans and programs of the largest cruise port in northern China.
”We are considering to have more cruises in countries like Japan, Korea as well as in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries,” Zhang told the Chinese and Asian journalists during their recent visit in Tianjin City.
The proposal is expected to boost the Philippines’ bid to increase the Chinese tourist arrivals to one million under the improving China-Philippines relations this year.
Zhang said cruise industry has been increasing “very fast” in China, the world’s top outbound tourism market based on 110 million Chinese tourists who traveled to over 130 destinations in 2016.
“We want to improve the whole industry. We need to make more cruise lines first,” Zhang said.
He said the port also plans to improve the facilities “because as you can see the waiting area is a little bit crowded.”
“We want also to put up duty-free shops, restaurants, children’s playground and comfortable waiting areas,” he added.
Tianjin International Cruise Home Port began operations in June 2010 and has boosted the incremental development of cruise tourism in northern China.
Zhang said Tianjin Cruise Port, one of 11 cruise ports in China, is expecting the number of passengers to increase to 10 million by 2020.
“We are also considering to increase the duration of voyage from present 10 days to at least 46 days to make it global,” Zhang said.
In 2016, the number of cruise ships that used Tianjin home port has increased significantly to 142 from only 96 in 2015 and predicted to balloon at 243 this year.
“When we started operation in 2010, we have only 25 cruise ships with 70,000 passengers but it increased to 142 with 710,000 passengers last year,” Zhang said.
Among the renowned cruise players using Tianjin port are Royal Caribbean International, Costa Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises and MSC or Mediterranean Shipping Company.
At present, three big cruise ships can dock simultaneously at the Tianjin Cruise Port but the number will increase to six once construction of the 62,000 square-meter facility is completed.
Zhang said Tianjin Cruise Port will make a big impact in deepening the tourism industry under the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 to deepen areas of cooperation in trade, culture, tourism and people-to-people exchanges in Asia, Europe and Africa.
The cruise ship port is located at the south of Dongjiang Port Area which is divided into dock operation, logistics processing and port integrated service zones.
The Port Area has also a man-made beach and Tianjin cargo port that is the largest port in northern China and the main maritime gateway to Beijing.
Dongjiang Port Area is part of the 119.9-square kilometer China (Tianjin) Pilot Free Trade Zone that was officially established in 2015 to serve as a high-level open platform for the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.