Freeing up ports of call

Updated: 2015-04-01 07:41

By Yang Feiyue(China Daily)

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Freeing up ports of call

A cruise ship prepares to start a trip from a Shanghai port to Japan. Photo provided to China Daily

Japan recently announced that Chinese aboard select cruise liners can disembark at its ports without visas.

Since March 18, passengers aboard 11 designated cruise liners can access Japanese ports of call without the documentation Chinese otherwise need to visit the island nation.

Tourists must board their ships before they sail away.

The move comes after Japan relaxed the validity of multi-entry tourist visas for Chinese from three to five years on Jan 19.

"It's a shot in the arm for the domestic cruise market," says Yang Lei, CEO of online travel giant Ctrip's cruise business department.

The policy will invigorate Chinese enthusiasm for cruises and boost the industry in such home-port cities as Shanghai, Tianjin and Beijing municipalities; Zhejiang's provincial capital Hangzhou, Jiangsu's provincial capital Nanjing and Hubei's provincial capital Wuhan; and Yunnan province, Yang says.

South Korea's influx of Chinese tourists surged since the country began offering visa-free cruises in 2012.

The number of Chinese cruise passengers making round trips from domestic ports is expected to exceed 1 million this year, the Beijing-based China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association estimates.

The number jumped from 206,140 in 2012 to 512,492 in 2013, as more foreign operators entered the market, says an association official surnamed Lei, who declined to give his full name.

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