Zhoushan hopes winds of fortune will blow its way
It might not be altogether plain sailing, but Dai Fenghui sees a bright future in Zhoushan's market for yachts. Since the end of winter, Dai, deputy manager of Zhoushan Phoenix Island Real Estate Development Co, has been busy preparing for the launch of his company's new yacht club.
"China's yacht market has been booming these past few years, with Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen as southern centers, and Qingdao and Dalian as northern ones," he says. "It's necessary that we also have one on the central eastern coast."
Dai says the new Phoenix Yacht club will target customers within the Yangtze River Delta.
"Up until now, Zhoushan has about 50 yachts, which is a good start," says Dai. "Our goal is to sell another 30 yachts within the next two years."
On a long term and wider basis, Zhoushan is hoping to develop its maritime economy to boost tourism, and has plans to promote deep-sea fishing and the area as a destination for international passenger liners.
Last year, 27 million people visited Zhoushan, bringing revenue of 26.7 billion yuan ($4 billion, 3 billion euros) to the city, but Guo Wenjie, director of Zhoushan Tourism Administration, says the city wants to attract up to 35 million by 2015, with revenue of 31.5 billion yuan.
"With rising personal income and higher living standards, tourists nowadays require more from their travel experience," says Guo. "Developing high-end tourism is a trend in the industry, and we are following it."
Guo says in order to meet visitors' demands for better services and facilities, the city is investing 40 million yuan a year in building tourism infrastructure.
"Construction of an international passenger liner wharf will be finished by the end of this year," he says. "We hope that will bring at least three to five passenger liners to Zhoushan every year."
He says Zhoushan's ultimate goal is to become a home port for international cruise ships.
"Zhoushan's marine advantage should be applied to the development of tourism as well," he says. "But for years, marine tourism has been limited by seasonal factors. Our plan is to maximize revenue in the peak spring and summer seasons."
But future visitors will need to be better heeled. The average expense for each tourist currently in Zhoushan is 1,000 yuan. That won't go far when a day trip on a yacht costs as much as 30,000 yuan.
Nevertheless, Zhoushan is aiming to attract 2,000 to 2,500 yachts to anchor in its bays - and to charge each yacht 2,000 yuan a month in mooring fees.
"We are ambitious to become the largest yacht center in the Yangtze River Delta," Guo says. "People will soon realize that a yacht is not only for the super rich. It can also serve as transport for ordinary people."
However, Guo and Dai realize that Zhoushan's high-end tourism drive is still in its early stages and that it has some catching up to do.
Dai says the yacht industry of Yangtze River Delta has been left behind compared to other regions in China.
To rally bodies for a concerted effort, Dai says he is promoting the establishment of a passenger liner and yacht association.
"Since the industry is new here, the market is not familiar to many players," he says. "We need such an association to help establish rules and supervise companies."
The tourism administration is talking with related national administrative departments about implementing a series of service standards for high-end tourism, especially in the cruise ship and yachting sectors.
"People pay high prices to receive high-quality services," says Guo. "Therefore, we need to make sure those services are up to standard and match the price. Otherwise, high-end tourism is just a daydream."(ChinaDaily)