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Port signs up cruise alliance

One of Europe's leading cruise companies, Costa Cruises, has signed a contract to jointly set up China's first customer service and consulting firm targeting the cruise sector with Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG).


The contract was signed on Friday night in Genoa, where Costa Cruises is based, by its Chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi and SIPG Chairman Lu Haigu.


The joint venture aims to provide comprehensive consulting service support to Chinese travel agents, as well as champion the sales of Costa cruise vacation packages in China and around the world, according to a statement issued on Friday.


According to the contract, the scope of the joint venture includes commercial consulting, tourist information consulting, and cruise and passenger shipping information consulting.


The signatories were full of priase for the new relationship and its business potential.


Costa Cruises' Pier Luigi Foschi said he was confident the new joint venture would support the Chinese cruise tourism market.


"China's cruise market has undoubtedly an important growth potential and Shanghai is playing an important role in this sector due to its role of a main port and economic center for China," the Costa Cruises CEO said.


"As the first international cruise operator to enter the Chinese market more than two years ago, we are definitely committed to China," he added.


"Costa Cruises is the pioneer of the cruise industry in China," said SIPG's Lu.


"With more than 60 years of international cruise holiday experience, Costa is crucial to the future development of the Chinese and Shanghai's cruise tourism industry," he added.


Tourism is one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the Chinese economy.


According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2007 the economic impact of tourism in China amounted to US$440 billion, about 6 percent of the world total generated by tourism.


More than 35 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad in 2007 and forecasts indicate that by 2010 there will be more than 50 million Chinese tourists going abroad and 100 million by 2020.


(Xinhua News Agency December 22, 2008)