China is on course to become the world’s largest cruise liner market, according to the CEO of Carnival, the largest cruise company in the world. Although the Chinese market is relatively small at present, Arnold Donald told China Daily that it will grow quickly and Carnival expects millions of Chinese tourists to use its services in the future.
This in turn is likely to boost demand for high-end and luxury goods, he said, so Carnival has started to increase the range of luxury products it can offer. The company has been operating in China since 2006 and it plans to launch a new cruise liner, Costa Serena, in Shanghai by 2015, which will coincide with the launch of two more ships from its rival, Royal Caribbean Cruises. International cruise companies have been increasing their investments in China since 2013 and, as a result, the number of Chinese tourists choosing to take a cruise holiday has increased by more than 50%.
Travel booking services are another area where Western tourism companies have spotted opportunities for growth, as confirmed by the announcement of an alliance between Ctrip, the Shanghai-based travel booking website, and the Priceline Group. The US travel company is investing $500m in Ctrip to increase the cross-promotion of each of their hotel listings and other travel services. The deal will allow Ctrip’s customers access to Priceline’s database of more than 500,000 hotels overseas while in exchange Priceline’s customers will be able to search Ctrip’s portfolio of 100,000 hotels in China.
“So many Chinese tourists are making their way to Europe,” said Darren Huston, Priceline’s chief executive in comments to the Financial Times. “In five to ten years they could become the world’s largest travelling population,” he said.