China's first international cruise in 3 years left from Shanghai on Blue Dream Star ship

   August 12, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

China's first international cruise in three years embarked on Friday, departing from Shanghai and heading towards Japan, signaling a positive development for the country's cruise industry, which has faced challenges due to the COVID crisis, according to state media.

The commencement of the Blue Dream Star's journey coincided with China's recent relaxation of pandemic-related travel restrictions, enabling its citizens to engage in more international travel, including group tours, to countries like the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

Operated by Shanghai Blue Dream International Cruise Line and accommodating 1000+ passengers, the voyage is set to visit several Japanese destinations, including Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, and Nagasaki.

The culture and tourism ministry's decision to further ease travel restrictions is expected to provide a potential boost to the global travel industry. Prior to the pandemic, Chinese tourists were among the highest spenders while traveling abroad, contributing a total of $255 billion in 2019. Group tours were a significant portion, accounting for around 60% of this expenditure.

The absence of Chinese tourists during the pandemic has led to financial difficulties for many businesses reliant on tourism worldwide. However, it remains uncertain how swiftly outbound Chinese tourism will recover for the newly accessible countries. Initial expectations of a strong resurgence in demand after China reopened its borders have not been fully realized.

As of July, the volume of international flights to and from China had only reached 53% of the levels seen in 2019.