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Gorgeous luxury liners being built By Wang Huazhong (China Daily) Updated: 2010-03-03 09:46

Gorgeous luxury liners being built By Wang Huazhong (China Daily) Updated: 2010-03-03 09:46 Comments(0) PrintMail Large Medium Small BEIJING: Ten luxury cruise ships are being built to cater to Chinese tourists' growing taste for pleasure voyages along the picturesque Three Gorges on the Yangtze River. The Three Gorges Company, an affiliate of the Chongqing Traffic and Tourist Investment Group, announced on Monday that it is investing 2 billion yuan ($290 million) over the next two years to build 20 ships, including 10 inland luxury liners, Chongqing Evening News reported on Tuesday. The new fleet apparently supports the Chongqing municipal government's Sun Project, which aims to build 20 five-star cruise ships by 2012 to help the gorges become the most desirable, high-end sightseeing spot among domestic inland waterways. China's longest river, the Yangtze, flows through the Three Gorges, which are located in Hubei province and Chongqing municipality and cover approximately 200 km in length. One of China's natural wonders, the Three Gorges were believed to have lost some of their appeal after the Three Gorges Dam was built, which submerged some of the scenic sites along the river. However, representatives of the local tourist industry told China Daily on Tuesday that the expensive project is "on a roll" and holds the potential to attract more tourists, especially domestic ones. According to a local cruise saleswoman, about 40 expensive cruise ships are already in full service during peak season on the waterway. "You can tell from the number of existing and upcoming ships that the industry is on a roll," said Chongqing tourism bureau's market development department director, surnamed Chen. "For years, luxury cruise ships have always outsold lower-class ones. Customers usually have to book their tickets one month in advance and half a year earlier for a trip in peak season," he said. Related readings: Cruise sector hits high water mark with surging volumes Cruise liner makes first call at Shanghai Port Tourism will continue to grow in 2010 Super-rich have craze for luxuries Luxury goods demand may peak by 2015 Another local cruise operator, New Century Cruises, which is also planning the maiden voyage of its fifth five-star cruise ship on the river this September, said the number of passengers has multiplied in recent years. "Despite the 2008 financial crisis, our sales revenue remained constant. The number of domestic guests shot up to offset the loss of international ones," said Zhang Chengxin, sales manager of the company. "Nonetheless, we now have about the same number of international and domestic guests," she added. Zhang Jiexing, sales manager from Meiya International Travel Service, told China Daily a three-day cruise along the gorges costs around 2,500 yuan.

URL:http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2010-03/03/content_9529858.htm