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Chinese Tourism Creates Growth Opportunities for the Cruise and Hotel Industries, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Once the Coronavirus pandemic is contained and the cruise industry recovers, the biggest potential market for cruise passenger growth is China, where the concept of cruising up until recently was almost unheard of.  Carnival, the world’s largest cruise company and the owner of the Princess, Holland America and Cunard lines has ships based in mainland China.  Cruise terminals have opened in a number of coastal cities including Shanghai, Tianjin and Xiamen.  In November 2020, assembly work began on China’s first domestically built cruise ship, the Adora Magic City, a joint venture between China State Shipbuilding Corporation and Carnival.  The new ship, the first of two planned vessels, will hold 4,250 passengers and was scheduled for delivery in late 2023.
Many challenges persist in making onboard life appealing to Chinese tastes.  Alcoholic drinks, a major lure on most cruise ships, are refused or merely sampled by many Chinese.  Most also prefer Chinese dining options (including chopsticks) to food from other cultures.  By law, travelers cannot book an international cruise directly but must use a Chinese tour guide company.  Many cruise lines are catching on quickly, however, and implementing dining venues and activities tailored to Chinese cultural norms.
As for hotels, growth in Chinese tourism is often tied to business travelers, especially for young professionals who find themselves traveling for the first time.  Typical Chinese businesspeople focus on a successful image and may thereby book stays in luxury hotels, or at least in hotels with a hip image.  The challenge for hotels, particularly luxury companies such as Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, is to establish brand awareness and loyalty on initial business trips and turn that into return trips for pleasure as well as business.
To that end, hotels are offering Mandarin translations of their web sites and apps.  Conrad Hotels & Resorts offers a mobile concierge app through which Chinese travelers can order room service in Mandarin and translating the order automatically to the local language for the hotel kitchen and service staff.  Private dining rooms are being made available for Chinese businesspeople who prefer to do business over a quiet, private meal (a common business practice in China).  Chinese breakfasts are appearing on menus around the world, and loyalty programs are targeting these travelers.
 


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