China is anticipated to surpass the United States as the biggest market for Royal Caribbean voyages in the coming years, according to line's chief executive. Michael Bayley, head of Royal Caribbean International, said:
“Today in the US there are probably 11 million people taking cruises every year, and in China there are about 1.5 million.
“When you think about the different population, the size of the growing middle class, at some point in the future, we think there will be as many Chinese taking cruises, and we would like to be the major one.”
China is currently the 2nd largest market for Royal Caribbean. In the latest effort to tap into fast-growing mainland market, the cruise line christened its newest Ovation of the Seas ship in northern China’s port of Tianjin.
According to cruise economy research institute of Shanghai International Shipping Institute, China is expected to deliver 4.5M passengers by 2020. This is lower than the flourishing outbound tourism sector, which in 2015 saw a record 120M people travel abroad and spending $215 billion.
Bayley said the 6.5% growth in GDP, the year’s official target and slowest in 2 decades, was still positive in comparison to most other economies.
“We all recognise a transition in the Chinese economy.
“The rate of growth is slowing, but the growth rate is great. We now see the beginning of transition from thinking about sightseeing to seeking experience for the families that creates memories in the Chinese market.”