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Baoshan, Shanghai set to build Asia Pacific’s largest professional cruise terminal

The development of the new Shanghai's Free Trade Zone provides an opportunity to turn the district into a major gateway for  cruise tourism, especially as plans are on the way to build flagship cruise terminal.

SHANGHAI – As Shanghai builds out the Shanghai International Shipping Center and the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the city’s Baoshan district is pushing ahead with the construction of its own two development zones, the Chinese Cruise Tourism Development Pilot Area and the Shanghai International Cruise Industry Development Comprehensive Reform Pilot Area.

Baoshan, the heart of which is the Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal, is developing its own cruise industry, in a move to pour new vitality into the transformation and development of Binjiang New Area.

In September of this year, the Ministry of Transport of China and the Municipal Government of Shanghai jointly published their opinions concerning the implementation of the Overall Scheme for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone as a means to accelerate the establishment of the Shanghai International Shipping Center. In the document the two authorities mentioned for the first time that they encourage the development of the cruise industry and support the establishment of a port of call for cruise ships in Shanghai.

Baoshan is presently considering the proposed ways to connect the Chinese Cruise Tourism Development Pilot Area to the Free Trade Zone, including setting up cruise service firms in the Free Trade Zone jointly with foreign cruise companies; partnering in ventures such as cruise travel agencies, cruise staff training, cruise staff recruitment agencies and cruise ship materials supplies; using the experience of foreign cruise service firms in market operation; and actively extending the cruise industry chain to enhance the growth and development of Shanghai’s cruise industry.

Policies such as “allowing the establishment of bonded exhibition and trade platforms in certain areas” clearly specified in the Overall Scheme for the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone can be applied to Binjiang New Area in Baoshan, allowing the area to set up duty-free showrooms and trade centers specially for cruise ship passengers.

Baoshan aims to become the flagship cruise terminal in China and even in Asia, by proactively connecting to the Free Trade Zone, by furnishing all the services necessary for a cruise ship’s port of call as well as by building out the infrastructure needed to encourage cruise companies to choose Baoshan for their headquarters. The district plans to actively develop ancillary markets related to the cruise industry and attract cruise liner, yacht and pleasure-boat firms whose main businesses are the offering of cruise-related services.

Ultimately Baoshan intends to expand the definition of what is meant by “cruise industry”, by making Binjiang the pioneer in the development of the industry in China, so that the area can rightfully become known as the “Long Beach of Shanghai” and serve as the beachhead for the development of the sector across China and even Asia. The district will also explore the best ways to set up convenient customs clearance facilities in the demonstration area, including 48-hour visa-free transit and the set-up of duty-free shops and refund offices within the area. In addition to existing routes to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and to Southeast Asia, long-haul routes –including some to Europe and the United States- should be launched in the future from Wusongkou terminal. Wang Hong, secretary of the CPC Shanghai Baoshan District Committee, said Baoshan is actively seeking to become a core part of Greater Shanghai in line with Shanghai’s urban development planning.

The Wusongkou Interational Cruise Terminal was approved for trial operation on March 1, 2012. The design of the terminal includes 1,500 meters of frontage facing the water,  two large cruise ship berths which have already been completed as part of the 774 meters of frontage that were part of the first phase of the project. The two berths can simultaneously accommodate two 200,000 tonnage cruise ships. A 514-meter approach bridge connects the terminal with its rear clearance platform. The 23,000-square meter terminal with an annual passenger throughput of 608,000 people provides comprehensive entry and exit facilities for tourists, including the passenger terminal, boarding corridor and boarding equipment and other supporting passenger service facilities.

A second phase will add two more berths and extends the terminal by 736 meters to address the berthing demands of two large cruise ships. The Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal is the largest specialized cruise terminal in terms of capabilities, the size of cruise ships served and passenger traffic. By 2014, the terminal is expected to serve 239 cruise ships and 1.15 million passengers. Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal chairman Chen Xiqi advocates the development of marine tourism, cultural and leisure activities as well as high-end hotels to create a true cruise terminal “portal” in China and a global cruise hub port.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.